Posted on February 9, 2011

Today I attended the Eric Geddes Breakfast Lecture sponsored by the University of Alberta and the guest speaker was Don Lowry, President and CEO of EPCOR. The topic was “Building Momentum: Governance, Growth and the Future of EPCOR.”

Mr. Lowry spoke about the past, the present and the future of EPCOR. What I found most compelling were the following four reasons why EPCOR has performed so well since 1998 which happens to be the year Mr. Lowry resumed command of the organization.

The first reason was EPCOR’s mandate on growth with a focus on delivering value to its shareholders, which happens to be the City of Edmonton. Over $2B has been sent back to the City in the form of dividends, taxes and franchise fees.

The second reason was that EPCOR is anchored in a governance model that works, simply put, business decisions are kept separate from a political decisions. This is important when managing the reputation of a brand as it makes it more appealing to customers, investors, and suppliers. At EPCOR, the Board is appointed by its sole shareholder, which is the City of Edmonton, and the Board operates independently of the City with full authority to make strategic business decisions.

The third reason was the investment into quality people. Mr. Lowry commented that raising capital isn’t the primary issue for growth, rather, finding the right people to manage the project that the financial resources fund is the real issue. I couldn’t agree more.

The fourth reason was that EPCOR actively participates in the lives of the communities that it serves.

Having worked for Aqualta (now EPCOR) in the late 1990s it would be an understatement to say the company has changed. Metamorphosis is a better description. Since I was employed there, EPCOR has entered the competitive energy retailing business soliciting both residential and business energy contracts then divested these business units; it has spun off its power generating assets to Capital Power, going through one of the largest IPO’s in Canadian history; 70% of its revenues now come from out of province; and in late Jan of 2011, it acquired water businesses in Arizona and New Mexico.

Wow. Mr. Lowry is a very busy guy.

Michael Yurechuk
President & CEO
Energy Engine