With electricity consumption projected to rise, Ontario’s communities and businesses are developing innovative energy management solutions that help make the electricity system more efficient, affordable, and sustainable. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and its partners have announced an investment of $6.8 million to explore innovative approaches to help consumers conserve and manage energy.

“Innovative projects such as those funded through our Grid Innovation Fund offer real promise for the future of Ontario’s electricity sector,” said Lesley Gallinger, IESO’s president and chief executive officer. “By continuing to tap into the skills of Ontario’s talented innovators, we see a real opportunity for these projects to help consumers reduce energy costs, support economic growth and help ratepayers find value.”

Profile photo of Lesley Gallinger

Lesley Gallinger, president and chief executive officer at IESO. (Credit: Lesley Gallinger / LinkedIn.)

Through the Grid Innovation Fund, the IESO supports pilot projects that explore new ways to enhance sustainability and energy efficiency through the use of artificial intelligence, equipment upgrades and new processes. These projects can be found in various sectors across the province and include:

  • Upgrades to a wastewater treatment plant in the Region of Waterloo that will explore how an energy-efficient membrane technology can replace traditional equipment to provide significant energy savings.
  • Testing the use of hydrogen peroxide, reducing the need for energy-intensive aeration at Greenway Wastewater Testing Facility in London, Ontario, led by the University of Western Ontario.
  • Toronto 2030 District project that entails working with the city’s real estate industry and community organizations to identify viable pathways to a GHG-emissions-free building sector. This includes creating a vision document to inform decision-making by real estate owners, energy management program marketing, and electricity sector planning for the decarbonization of the economy.
  • Updating Natural Resources Canada’s RETScreen Expert software – used by energy managers in residential, commercial and industrial buildings – to allow modelling of deep retrofits that can result in up to 80 per cent electricity cost savings. In addition, the software will provide demand response and load reduction analysis capabilities.
  • Pollution Probe and QUEST Community Energy Planning project in Burlington that will help communities meet their energy goals by developing an implementation approach that integrates stakeholder and utility engagement, identifies best practices, and provides a draft work plan.
  • Demonstration of an industrial Energy Management Information System using artificial intelligence at an Ontario mining facility to better understand, and more efficiently manage, all facets of the mine’s electricity consumption and peak demand. The project will quantify energy savings resulting from the Energy Management System.
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“The Grid Innovation Fund is helping Ontario use energy more efficiently and supporting innovation locally,” said Todd Smith, Ontario’ Minister of Energy. “I commend the IESO for providing funding for these exciting projects that will test and demonstrate innovative new ways to manage energy consumption and reduce costs for families and businesses.”

Since its inception in 2005, the IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund has supported more than 260 projects, taking innovative ideas from partners and turning them into knowledge that enables the enhanced reliability, sustainability and resilience of the provincial electricity system.

In addition to the Grid Innovation Fund, the IESO’s Save on Energy programs provide a range of incentives to businesses and residents to help manage energy use and reduce bills. From 2011 to 2021, more than 270,000 Save on Energy program participants have saved 17 TWh of electricity, equivalent to powering more than two million homes for a year.

As demand for electricity is projected to grow over the next decade, energy efficiency will continue to play an important role in cost-effectively meeting system needs, driving cost-competitiveness, and promoting customer-driven solutions.

Featured image credit: Greenway Wastewater Testing Facility.

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