Bullfrog Power is an inspiring Canadian green energy success story. Since 2005 Bullfrog pioneers in providing easy solutions for large businesses like Walmart, Unilever, and RBC as well as individuals to power their homes and offices with 100% renewable energy. At their tenth anniversary I talk to CEO Ron Seftel on how the green energy landscape has evolved and how businesses may position themselves for the anticipated changes from our new climate-friendly federal and provincial governments.
Derek Wong: Congratulations on Bullfrog’s ten successful years since your launch in 2005. How does the current state of green energy in Canada compare to 2005?
Bullfrog Power CEO Ron Seftel: I’m amazed that it has been ten years. It’s an incredible opportunity to step back and realize how far we have come. Both our community and our company have grown as we have expanded to offer a green energy choice to all Canadians. We have developed some incredible relationships with advocates for renewable energy from a diverse range of people—including business leaders, Canadian celebrities, homeowners, small community co-ops and First Nations communities across Canada.
On the state of renewable energy in Canada, the biggest change has been a real tipping point in the public consensus on climate change and the recognition that a transition from conventional fossil fuels to renewable energy is essential to address climate change. We are hoping the conversation continues to evolve to a place where solutions are the trending theme as more people are inspired and empowered to take action in their own lives.
In Ontario, we have seen the phasing out of coal plants to generate electricity. We are now seeing positive signals from Alberta and movement at the federal level that is also encouraging. And yet, we still have a long way to go before achieving our goal of transitioning to a 100 per cent renewable energy future.
Have the key drivers for businesses to partner with Bullfrog evolved through the years?
Leadership on corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability has always been a key driver for businesses who look to partner with Bullfrog Power. What has changed is where the impetus for establishing that leadership role is coming from. With more millennials entering the workforce there is a shift in sensibility. It is increasingly incumbent on organizations to align themselves with this new generation’s values.
I believe that organizations are now also realizing the benefits that come from a strong reputation for credible and progressive action and reporting on sustainability. Today’s consumers want to know how products are made and how they are sourced. The business community is responding by moving toward increased transparency, as well as action and accountability on the environment.
Part of the new Liberal government’s climate change platform is to create a new $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Trust to fund emissions reduction projects. What opportunities do you see there for Canadian businesses?
The new federal government has some progressive plans on the environmental front. This new fund will be an interesting one to watch and time will tell as to how successful it will be. At Bullfrog, the funding of green energy projects has been at the core of our business as we use the demand of our bullfrogpowered individuals and businesses to support new renewable energy projects across the country.
We are also especially proud of our roster of over sixty community projects that we have supported, including a biogas digester at the Toronto Zoo and a solar project with the Lubicon Cree First Nation, which has been fighting for the transition to clean energy in an area of Alberta that is greatly impacted by Alberta’s fossil fuel industry.
The new federal and various provincial governments are expected to set more aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. How do you think Canadian businesses should position themselves for the anticipated changes?
For those businesses that have yet to make sustainability a priority, seeing the environment returning as a central issue for the federal government is an important signal to start their own sustainability journey. Whether it is making some baseline measures relating to energy use and greenhouse gas emissions or engaging employees on the environment, there is a lot that any company can do.
For Bullfrog Power, it’s an exciting time. We believe that the bullfrogpowered individuals and businesses across Canada are a type of bellwether constituency for the support of renewable energy and we are now witnessing the mainstreaming of that support.
Government mandated greenhouse gas reductions are a terrific start but we should recognize that their timeline for transitioning away from polluting forms of energy is a long one. Moreover, these targets as currently set will not meet levels required to limit the most severe impacts of climate change. That is why there is a real opportunity for businesses to take a leadership role. By going above and beyond these initial mandates, corporations can show employees, customers and other stakeholders that businesses can drive real change by looking at their own circumstances and delivering solutions that address their own actions. That’s where Bullfrog Power can deliver customized solutions to our customers that deliver real and impactful change to help them on their sustainability journey.
How have the sustainability mandates of businesses evolved, and what role does Bullfrog play?
Since 2005, far more businesses have a sustainability mandate and the C-suite level support to enforce it. In the early days, we had to educate people and businesses about the fact that they have a green energy choice. Today, Bullfrog Power plays a role in helping businesses evolve their sustainability mandate in several important ways. First, Bullfrog Power’s green energy gives businesses a powerful way to reduce their emissions footprint and support the growth of renewable energy in Canada. Second is credibility. By offering a premium green energy product that is audited by Deloitte and supported by environment organizations like WWF-Canada, the Pembina Institute and David Suzuki Foundation, Bullfrog Power can assure our customers that they are reducing their emissions with the highest quality green energy solution. Bullfrog also speaks to internal stakeholders in an organization, helping to retain the next generation of socially-minded employees and demonstrating that their employer is a force for good in their community. Third, choosing Bullfrog Power allows businesses to enhance the reputational and brand benefits that come from being seen as a sustainability leader.
The Bullfrog Green Index shows the leading organizations across Canada choosing 100% green energy with Bullfrog Power. How has this Index changed over the 10 years?
What is really exciting for us is to see how the Bullfrog Green Index has grown, broadened and diversified over time as the sustainability message and the need to reduce emissions has spread across industries. We are proud to see that some of our biggest supporters in our first years, including RBC, TD Bank and Ivanhoe Cambridge, remain customers today. And we were thrilled to have welcomed Diageo and Unilever Canada to the Index after making Canada’s biggest Green Natural Gas and Green Electricity purchases, respectively. However the biggest area of growth for Bullfrog has been in the number of Herald and Advocate level businesses, like Vancouver’s Earnest Ice Cream and Toronto’s Fresh Collective, that are making the choice for renewable energy today. We have even more partnerships in the works and are excited to see how this prestigious listing will continue to grow over the years to come.
We look forward to seeing Bullfrog’s future projects. Congratulations on your ten years of success!