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Ontario's Smart Grid Forum

Maintaining Ontario’s Momentum in Smart Grids

Ontario has established a considerable head start in smart grid technologies, and is poised to build on that momentum, creating a smarter, more efficient electricity system that delivers direct benefits to consumers and the broader economy.

The Ontario Smart Grid Forum includes member organizations from Ontario’s utility sector, industry associations, public agencies and universities working together to propose a vision for a smart grid in Ontario and examine the many components that comprise it.  It is supported by the Corporate Partners Committee, which represents more than 45 private sector organizations active in the smart grid space – including, electric car markets, retailers, energy management companies, systems integrators and equipment manufacturers.

In its 2011 report, “Modernizing Ontario’s Electricity System: Next Steps,” the Forum made a series of recommendations that focus on removing barriers to smart grid development and taking full advantage of its intended benefits.  These recommendations include:

  • The Ontario Ministry of Energy should conduct an annual survey to assess consumer interest in smart home technologies and how they are influencing consumer behaviour
  • An economic development task force should be established to capitalize on the innovation, commercialization and job creation potential of Ontario’s smart grid investments
  • The Ontario Ministry of Transportation should track electric vehicle registration and provide this information to utilities to help them ensure that local networks can support the increased demand for electricity
  • The IESO and the Ontario Power Authority, in partnership with others, should develop a framework to promote the deployment of energy storage within distribution networks where it is cost-effective
  • The Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner should track all smart-grid related complaints regarding the use of personal electricity consumption information
  • The electricity industry should develop a test-bed environment for companies to assess whether their products and services are compatible with Ontario’s advanced metering infrastructure used to support its smart metering initiative
  • Industry should move toward greater standardization to ensure that all technologies can work together effectively and keep Ontario in step with broader international developments, drawing from the Canadian Smart Grid Standards Roadmap completed by the Canadian National Committee of the International Electrotechnical Commission.
  • Addressing barriers to facilitating third party access to electricity consumers and their real-time consumption information.

Progress has been made in many of the Forum’s recommendation areas, and the Forum has continued to provide active commentary on them:

  • In December 2012, the Forum published, "Access to Consumer Data: A Vignette" to provide updated commentary on the state of its recommendations related to third party access to real-time consumption information. Open data access has been an issue at the forefront of smart grid-related deliberations in Ontario since the Forum’s 2011 report was published. Outside of Ontario, various facets of this issue are being advanced by regulators, standards bodies, and technology providers – and the impact of these developments is having effect within the province as well. This report reviews the rationale behind the previous Forum data access recommendation, the progress that has been made in this area since then, and highlights some possible solutions that have emerged.

  • In August, 2013, to mark its fifth anniversary, the Ontario Smart Grid Forum, in conjunction with its Corporate Partners Committee released, “Ontario Smart Grid Progress Assessment: A Vignette” which assesses the developmental progress of the smart grid in Ontario over the past five years.  This report is oriented around addressing the three highly level questions which should be of interest to policymakers and all sectors which touch on smart grid-relate issues as follows:
    • Why is the Smart Grid important?
    • What has been done so far?
    • What still needs to be done?
Overall, this vignette outlines a broad sector consensus that Ontario has accomplished much, but it cannot rest on its laurels. The Forum and the Corporate Partners Committee are continuing their work to monitor and facilitate progress in the smart grid, particularly in establishing and strengthening relationships between the traditional electricity sector and new players emerging in the smart grid space.
 
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