Reflecting on a year of challenges, changes and growth

by Arun Banskota – Chief Executive Officer, Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp.

As posted by Arun Banskota on LinkedIn

This weekend, I was reflecting on the many lessons we learned from navigating Covid-19 over the last 12 months. I joined Algonquin/Liberty in February 2020, and this one-year mark is also an important milestone in my personal journey at such a unique and exciting company as Algonquin/Liberty.

Keeping the health and safety of our employees topmost in our priorities, we quickly pivoted to a “work from home” mode back in March 2020. I admit, it’s been frustrating to not be able to travel to our various facilities across North America, meet employees, customers and community leaders, and build those relationships in person. Yet, I am immensely grateful – as I know many of us are – for the technologies that have allowed us all to stay connected, and to keep the business moving forward for our almost three million customers who depend on us to deliver critical energy and water services.

Technology, and the unwavering spirit of our employees, have enabled us to take a challenging year and turn it into something amazing: we built 1600 MW of new wind and solar farms, acquired Ascendant in Bermuda and ESSAL in Chile, completed innovative deals and partnerships that will fuel future growth, and invested in infrastructure to ensure we meet our long-term commitments to our many customers.

Through all of that activity, a few truths drove home to me, and I would like to share those with you:

1.     For long-term success and resiliency, you need the combination of the right talent with a strong culture. When I came onboard I knew that, given the nature of what we do on both the utilities and renewable energy sides of the business, we have many professions represented and thousands of talented individuals across the company. But talent also requires the right mindset, and diverse viewpoints to bring a constant supply of new ideas. In spite of the pandemic, we continued to add new team members across all areas of the business, focused on our diversity and inclusion (albeit virtually!), and aligned the company culture with our strategy.  

2.     We found multiple ways to achieve our goals. In 2020, we had 1600 MW of wind and solar projects under construction, our largest ever. The pandemic caused havoc to the global supply-chain. Despite all these challenges, our teams found ways to overcome the multiple hurdles to bring these projects into operation. Also, we completed the purchase of ESSAL in Chile virtually, using drones to conduct due diligence and numerous multi-lingual video conferences. It was a first for us, and we found ways to make it happen. These experiences have given us added confidence that we can find solutions to almost any obstacle, with the right innovative thinking.

3.     Our Purpose is 100% on point. Our Purpose is sustaining energy and water for life, and our employees went above and beyond in every way imaginable to carry out our Purpose. Imagine having a customer whose water supply isn’t working and you need to go into their homes at the height of a pandemic, in full PPE, to help. You don’t know if they’ve been exposed to the virus, and you have a family to go home to at the end of the day. That’s scary. Yet, many of our team members did that daily over the last 12 months, and continue to do so today. That’s more than talent and skill – that’s dedication to our Purpose, and to the customers and communities we serve. Sustaining energy and water for life means we are there to ensure our customers have those critical services available, so they can have warm homes, power for their many needs, and clean water. (Thank you, team!)

Conviction of Purpose, diverse teams, innovative thinking – for me, all of this featured largely in a year none of us will soon forget.