Finding common ground: Marcy Cochlan, Director, Market Regulation
Sustainability has always been a central theme in Marcy Cochlan’s career, from the first day she joined TransAlta in 1993 after graduating with a Masters and undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Calgary.
“It was a very interesting time when Alberta’s electricity market was moving from a regulated to a deregulated model and there were lots of places to go and grow your career,” she recalls, adding, “TransAlta was one of the leading companies involved in fledgling sustainability initiatives and demonstrated very progressive thinking and action.”
Cochlan’s first focus concerned policy development and carbon emissions. She applied her economic insight to the question of carbon taxes and other market mechanisms that would help address and provide financial incentives to reduce carbon emissions. The experience helped shape her view on the critical nature of the roles of policy and regulatory framework development. It also imparted valuable lessons on how to successfully contribute to the complex multi-stakeholder processes involved in shaping robust, workable solutions.
“Very early on, I was part of a team that helped define what an offset was. We were also part of the effort that convinced provincial and federal governments that voluntary action was the way to go concerning greenhouse gas emissions—and I was also active on the province’s first sulphur dioxide working committee,” she explains.
TransAlta was among several progressive companies involved at the outset of some important conversations about climate change, corporate responsibility and stakeholder collaboration at that time.
Cochlan says, “The social license to operate is a huge part of the sustainable development picture and back then, it was just beginning to show force. Today, it permeates every aspect of our company.”
Working in partnership with stakeholders—be it community members, landowners, environmental groups, regulatory agencies or government agencies—is an approach that TransAlta has long demonstrated and advocated.
Today, Cochlan’s responsibilities are concentrated on representing TransAlta on all electricity consultation and hearings related to the market, including rules, decisions, policy development and new regulation. And her early involvement in a sustainability context continues to provide valuable insight.
“TransAlta has a strong record of introducing policies that make sense and are workable in the real world—and we understand how to collaborate effectively with diverse stakeholders,” she says. “That’s a key part of being a sustainable company.”
- 2013 Report on Sustainability