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.

“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.”

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

“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.”

Featured image credit: Ontario Tech University.

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