External Verification Process
The Sustainable Electricity program addresses three major components of sustainability – environment, society and the economy – and facilitates an integrated approach to managing the impacts of the electricity industry. Each year, CEA members report on specified parameters and key indicators of performance. This information is then amalgamated into an overall annual report on the sustainable development activities of CEA member utilities.
The Independent Verification process is a core element of the Sustainable Electricity program, and it is designed to ensure that the information collected from CEA members and communicated to stakeholders is accurate and credible. An independent, qualified verifier is retained by CEA to review implementation of the Sustainable Electricity program by utilities on a rotating basis, using a five year, geographically distributed cycle. The verifier reviews the Utility Progress Reports (UPR) submitted by individual utilities to CEA for data integrity and quality of information provided. This includes, but is not to be limited to, test checks of the indicators and metrics provided by utilities through the reporting process. The verification also looks at the degree to which utilities embrace sustainability principles and communicate with internal and external stakeholders on their overall sustainability performance.
The implementation of management systems and programs necessary to support the utilities’ commitment to the program principles, in particular the establishment of an EMS consistent with ISO 14001, is also assessed. The scope and nature of the systems are reviewed to ensure they adequately cover each utility’s operations. Key system elements, such as third-party certifications, internal audits and senior management reviews are also reviewed to ensure that the systems have been implemented and are being continuously improved. Facilities which are ISO 14001 registered will have the registration audits recognized by the CEA verifier and avoid repeat auditing of this issue.
To facilitate a comprehensive and consistent review of member companies, the CEA has developed an Independent Verification Protocol which consists of a Verification Process Manual (which is an overview of the process with specific guidance on how the process is to be carried out) and Protocol Templates which are to be completed both before and during the verification process to ensure that sufficient and consistent information is accessed and reviewed.
The Template Protocols address the following areas:
- Accuracy of UPR Reporting
- Data Verification
- Data Validation
- Environmental Management Systems
- Sustainability Practices
Templates have also been developed for a Summary of Findings, a documentation of actions taken to address previous findings and a record of the Verification activities.
All verification manuals and protocols associated with the Sustainable Electricity program are proprietary to CEA.