Industry Forum issues recommendations for “smarter, more efficient” electricity system
By Alyssa Dalton
May 3, 2011 – The Ontario Smart Grid Forum released a report on May 3 with a series of recommendations, which it said builds on the province’s momentum in creating a smarter, more efficient electricity system that deliver direct benefits to consumers and the broader economy.
“Our province has a real head-start in getting the building blocks in place for a smart grid – whether it’s through the smart meters now installed in every home, research and development by universities and the private sector, or upgrades to the distribution networks by utilities,” said Paul Murphy, forum chair and president and CEO of the IESO.
“The task moving forward is to ensure that our next steps are co-ordinated, consistent and prudent – ensuring that all the pieces within the smart grid work together effectively and generate the maximum possible benefits for consumers and the province as a whole,” he added.
According to the forum, smart grids refer to the use of information and communications technologies to better manage the production, storage, delivery and consumption of electricity. They enable a two-way flow of information, automate many aspects of grid operation and enable such things as electric vehicles and demand response.
The report, Modernizing Ontario’s Electricity System: Next Steps, makes a series of recommendations that focus on removing barriers to smart grid development and taking full advantage of its intended benefits, including:
• The Ontario Ministry of Energy should conduct an annual survey to assess consumer interest in smart home technologies and how they are influencing consumer behavior;
• 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 distribution networks; and
• 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 work currently being done through the Canadian National Committee of the International Electrotechnical Commission.
“Over the last number of years, our industry has developed an abundance of innovative solutions and proven expertise in smart grid applications and technologies. This is an extremely valuable commodity in the world economy,” said Jatin Nathwani, Ontario research chair in Public Policy and Sustainable Energy Management at the University of Waterloo.
The Ontario Smart Grid Forum is comprised of members from Ontario’s utility sector, industry associations, public agencies, and universities.
CLICK HERE to view the report.
CLICK HERE to view a backgrounder about the report recommendations.