IESO, OEB and Local Organizations Collaborate on Local Energy Projects

EIN IESO OEB 400

March 31, 2022

As Ontario’s energy needs increase, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and Ontario Energy Board (OEB) are working with local electricity distributors and technology companies to help communities and businesses contribute to the province’s energy future. Four projects, representing a total investment of $37 million, will accelerate the adoption of local energy projects to help communities play an increasing role in providing for their own energy needs.

These innovative projects will connect various types of local energy supply to meet electricity needs, such as solar power, battery storage and the ability of consumers to reduce electricity use when needed. Often referred to as distributed energy resources, or DERs, these projects have the potential to contribute to the reliability and sustainability of the grid.

Through $10.6 million in funding from the IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund, as well as regulatory support from the OEB’s Innovation Sandbox, these projects will contribute to the technical and regulatory advances that will help realize the potential of these solutions. Project proponents and other partners are investing an additional $26.4 million.

These projects will demonstrate the potential of these solutions to defer the need for more costly electricity infrastructure investments while providing savings to electricity consumers. They will also provide participating businesses with opportunities to develop new sources of revenue and reduce their carbon footprints.

These projects include:

  • Local Businesses Supporting Grid Needs – This project will demonstrate a streamlined approach to participate, measure, and verify the capability of a group of resources from 11 different businesses across the province to either reduce their electricity use and/or leverage on-site batteries to meet real-time energy needs of the grid. Partners include: Enel X North America and 11 host sites throughout Ontario.
  • A Local Electricity Market for Windsor-Essex – Designing and implementing a real-time, local electricity market for Essex Powerlines customers who can supply electricity or reduce electricity use on demand to provide services to the local and/or provincial grid. This will help meet growing local and provincial electricity needs in the Leamington area. Partners: Essex Powerlines, NODES, Essex Energy Corp., Utilismart Corp.
  • Demonstrating the Benefits of Simultaneously Providing Local and Provincial Capacity – Determining how a local distribution company can run a demand response program to meet local needs while also providing capacity to the provincial grid from the same resources. This project will explore coordination activities between local and provincial grids and quantify customer benefits. Partners: Toronto Hydro, Power Advisory LLC, Ryerson Centre for Urban Energy
  • A Campus Demonstration of Energy Resources – Demonstrating the capabilities of a group of various energy resources on the Ontario Tech University campus to provide local and provincial grid services. Partners: Peak Power Inc., Oshawa Power and Utilities Corp., Ontario Tech University

“Demand for electricity in Ontario is increasing due to economic growth and a rapid shift to electrification in transportation and other sectors,” says Lesley Gallinger, President and CEO of the IESO. “With continued investment in local pilot projects through the Grid Innovation Fund, we are closer to unlocking the potential of communities to provide sustainable and reliable electricity supply to help meet the growing needs of Ontarians.”

“We need to facilitate meaningful innovation by utilities and others, and protect consumers as the energy sector transforms,” says Susanna Zagar, CEO of the OEB. “Projects like these – and the kind of support that the Innovation Sandbox offers – provide insight into emerging challenges in the sector, as well as the solutions that can tackle those challenges.”

“Testing new ways to give Ontarians more opportunities to participate in our grid can help us identify significant savings for Ontario’s electricity system,” said Todd Smith, Ontario Minister of Energy. “This new round of projects supported by the IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund and the OEB’s Innovation Sandbox has the potential to transform how electricity is stored, managed, and distributed in Ontario, while improving system reliability and sustainability and reducing costs for ratepayers.” 

Since its inception in 2005, the IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund has supported more than 260 projects, taking innovative ideas from the sector that can enhance reliability, sustainability and resiliency of the provincial electricity system. A third-party analysis of 27 past innovation projects showed that if those technologies were adopted more widely across the province, they could provide customer savings of half a billion dollars on an annual basis.

The OEB Innovation Sandbox enables innovators to better understand regulatory requirements. Where necessary, it clears a pathway for projects to proceed on a trial basis where there is potential to provide value to consumers.

For more information, see the backgrounder.

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