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Summary of the Evaluation of the Regional Electricity Cooperation and Strategic Infrastructure (RECSI) Initiative

What the evaluation found


  • Although this Initiative has ended, the evaluation identified various needs for initiatives designed to facilitate collaboration among provinces/territories for regional planning purposes. In particular, the federal government is in a position to facilitate collaboration among provinces/territories and their utilities to:
    • Plan on a regional basis;
    • Share information; and
    • Identify regional opportunities that will help the Government of Canada meet its goal of transitioning fossil-fuel reliant regions in Canada to renewable energy.
  • Initiatives such as RECSI align with:
    • Priorities of the federal government, including working closely with provinces/territories, transitioning to a low-carbon economy, and identifying projects with the potential to support Canada’s commitments to reduce GHGs.
    • NRCan priorities, including those identified in the Minister’s Mandate letter.
    • NRCan’s mandate to promote cooperation with provincial/territorial governments in activities related to the development of natural resources, even though developing these resources falls within provincial jurisdiction.

Lesson Learned 1. Programs/initiatives focused on working with, and facilitating cooperation between, provinces/ territories, and industry (if applicable), particularly in regional natural resource planning exercises, should clearly address or explain possible approaches or suggestions (if any) for support or implementation of projects/actions by provinces/ territories following the end of the initiative.


  • The RECSI Initiative supported two regional dialogues and studies, which resulted in the testing of scenarios or projects within each region.
    • Atlantic region identified projects that could reduce GHG emissions but that need further consideration as they would require significant financial investments.
    • Western region identified specific projects that would result in reduced GHG emissions and cost savings.
  • The design and delivery of the Initiative directly facilitated the achievement of the intended immediate outcomes, which evidence suggests would not have been achieved – or not achieved to the same extent or with the same results – without the Initiative:
    • Collaboration and agreement among provinces/ territories on regional electricity planning and scenarios/actions to be investigated;
    • Increased technical and policy knowledge among all participating stakeholders.
  • Various external factors have the potential to positively or negatively affect the Initiative’s ability to respond to the intended need and achieve the intended outcomes, including:
    • Policy infrastructure;
    • Provincial/territorial culture or practice; and
    • Industry buy-in.
  • The necessary conditions were largely in place to facilitate the achievement of, or contribution to, the intended outcomes.


  • Although implementation was not systematically monitored, there is no evidence of major deviations from the schedule/plan.
  • From a program design perspective:
    • It is reasonable to expect the RECSI Initiative to contribute to the intended intermediate outcome of investments by provinces/ territories, utilities, and/or the federal government in the construction of large clean energy projects and transmission/integration projects to deliver that clean energy.
    • Initiatives like RECSI provide opportunities for provinces/territories to collaborate at a regional level and conduct studies to examine different projects that can help them identify potential solutions to prepare for, and comply with, new regulations (e.g., coal reduction regulations that take effect in 2030).
    • Key strengths were the collaborative nature and the use of external experts. Only minor adjustments were suggested by interviewees.

Lesson Learned 2. Implementation, including the activities and outputs (e.g., as identified in a logic model), should be systematically monitored to identify if the initiative is on track to meet its intended outcomes or if course correction is needed.

Lessons Learned 3. Future initiatives designed to facilitate collaboration and/or the conducting of studies, particularly related to regional natural resource planning, could consider some adjustments to the design.

Program Information

The RECSI Initiative was delivered from 2016-17 through 2017-18, with actual expenditures of approximately $2M. The objective of the Initiative was to identify least cost options for transitioning fossil fuel-reliant regions in Canada to renewable energy through regional electricity cooperation and strategic infrastructure. To deliver on this, NRCan undertook two key activities:

  • Convening and facilitating eastern and western dialogues involving provinces and their utilities; and,
  • Commissioning studies.

In particular, NRCan:

  • Provided leadership in convening and facilitating the regional dialogues;
  • Managed delivery of the Initiative;
  • Promoted and supported provinces/territories in their collaborative activities throughout the implementation of the Initiative;
  • Participated on/chaired senior management level Steering Committees and working level Technical Advisory Committees for each dialogue; and
  • Administered contribution agreements to regional organizations to deliver/lead the dialogues and studies.

About the Evaluation

The evaluation covers the period from 2016-17 through 2017-18.

Objective: to assess the relevance, effectiveness, and efficiency of the RECSI Initiative, with a focus on the extent to which it was designed and delivered in a way that would facilitate the achievement of, or contribution to, the intended outcomes. Because the evaluation focuses on implementation rather than assessing outcome achievement or impact, the assessment of effectiveness emphasizes the following:

  • Determining the extent to which the activities and outputs facilitated (or will facilitate) the achievement of the intended immediate outcomes;
  • Identifying the factors impacting (positively or negatively) the achievement of all intended outcomes;
  • Identifying whether any modifications were made during the implementation, why, and what impact (if any) these had on the achievement of the intended outcomes; and
  • Determining the extent to which the design of the Initiative could reasonably be expected to contribute to the higher-level intended outcomes.

Methods: The evaluation used two key lines of evidence, consisting primarily of qualitative data:

  • Review of Initiative documents as well as strategic federal government and NRCan strategic/corporate documents.
  • 23 stakeholder interviews consisting of RECSI Initiative management and staff (7), and external participants/stakeholders (16) such as provinces/territories, utilities, study consultants, and third party delivery organizations (i.e., contribution agreement recipients.

The results of the evaluation will help inform the design of future interventions focused on collaboration and dialogue with provinces/territories and industry, particularly natural resources related regional planning exercises. However, because the Initiative has ended, this is a lessons learned evaluation, there is no Management Response and Action Plan (MRAP) for the evaluation.

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