Faces of clean energy: Providing power to the people

“I could safely say I haven’t had two days that have been the same. You don’t get bored in my role.”

In September, Clean Energy Canada will release a report forecasting the size and growth of the clean energy sector in Canada. In the lead up to the report, we talked to some of the people currently employed in the sector to get an idea of what it’s like on the ground.

This exciting field already employs roughly 300,000 Canadians and is growing far quicker than the Canadian economy as a whole. For more information on the current size of the clean energy sector, read our spring report, Missing the Bigger Picture.

Name: Fahimeh Kazempour
Job title: Technical Manager, Grid Innovation
Works at: Alectra Utilities in Ontario
Favourite part of the job: No two days are ever the same
Favourite hobbies: Camping and driving an RV around Canada with her husband and eight-month-old daughter

Fahimeh’s love for all things electrical began at an early age, she says. “I took apart lots of my toys, including my grandma’s old radio, to see what is inside and how they work. Of course, I failed to put them back together.” And so when it came time for her to choose what to do at university, electrical engineering was an obvious choice.

Fahimeh now works for Alectra Utilities, helping homes and businesses across Ontario get access to cleaner and cheaper energy. Alectra Utilities is the second-largest municipality-owned utility in North America, providing power to millions of homes in the Golden Horseshoe area.

Fahimeh spends her workday knee-deep in clean energy. She works on a range of projects, from designing microgrids and zero-emissions homes to developing vehicle charging infrastructure. In her words, “the projects I work on essentially help Alectra understand how to operate, optimize, and integrate distributed renewable energy resources into its operations.”

There are many things she enjoys about her job. Not only does it align with her personal ambitions for a sustainable energy future, but because she works in emerging technologies, she is often doing things that have never been done before. She also enjoys how variable her job is. “I could safely say I haven’t had two days that have been the same. You don’t get bored in my role.”

But perhaps most importantly, she gets to see people’s lives benefit from the work she does.“I won’t forget the time one of our customers called us to say how grateful he was that he could invite his neighbours to his home and give them cold beer when there was a storm and the whole neighbourhood had lost power except his house, which was equipped with solar and battery storage.”

Fahimeh studied in her home country of Iran before moving to Toronto to start a PhD and beginning her Canadian clean energy journey. “I came here with my two pieces of luggage, knowing absolutely nobody in Canada, with a passion in my heart and a mission in mind to use my knowledge to make a contribution to a green, more sustainable energy future,” she says.

During her PhD, Fahimeh worked on using renewable energy sources like wind and solar to provide optimal power to large electricity grids. She also was one of the first people in North America to work on the concept of virtual power plants, which are ways of harnessing many distributed energy sources—like rooftop solar—from across an area and feeding them back into the grid.

She has now been at Alectra for three years. When not creating exciting clean energy solutions, she enjoys cooking and playing with her eight-month old daughter (who has just got her first two teeth) as well as getting out and about in an RV with her family.