Call for further regulatory support on smart metering and smart grids in Ontario


Max Cananzi,
Chair, EDA
Toronto, ON, Canada — (METERING.COM) — September 4, 2012 – Ontario’s electricity distributors have called for further policy support to encourage them to continue moving forward and to leverage the lead obtained from being early adopters in smart meter technology.

These new technologies and capabilities will provide further societal benefits and should be supported by the regulator, say the distributors.

The call is made in a new report from Ontario’s Electricity Distributors Association (EDA), which presents recommendations for the future of electricity distribution in the province.

The report also calls on the regulator to view investments used to monitor and control distribution networks as part of the normal system expansion and renewal to support reliability and safety. The regulator should also encourage distributors to leverage their smart grid systems to provide additional services, such as customer demand response and load control, electric vehicle charging management and remote meter reading for other utilities.

According to the report, filing requirements from the Ontario Energy Board have discouraged distributors from further smart grid investment and instead have encouraged a focus on demonstration pilots.

The report contains a six-point plan for Ontario’s distribution sector, with the potential for savings of more than Ca$540 million (US$524.5 million) per year.

These, with their respective savings, are:

  • Allow distributors to manage water and waste water services – $180 million
  • Permit distributors to carry out street light maintenance work in their communities − $15 million
  • Let distributors take the lead in designing and developing conservation and demand management (CDM) programs that make sense for their customers and communities instead of today’s centrally planned, one-size-fits-all programs − $20 million
  • Improve industry regulations − $15 million
  • Curtail energy retailers in the residential sector − $260 million
  • Promote the voluntary mergers of distributors − $50 million.

“Our submission details how, with the right changes, the government could reduce customer bills by close to five percent and improve the distribution system in Ontario at the same time,” said Max Cananzi, chair of the EDA. “Distributors can deliver more than just electricity – by growing and delivering more services to their communities, they can be even more efficient which will lead to savings for customers.”

The report notes that technology is a primary determinant of industry structure. Therefore technological change should be a primary driver of changes in industry structure. In particular, utilities should continue expanding their functional capabilities to accommodate new and emerging technologies such as smart grid systems and distributed generation. Implementation of these technologies should be achieved on a cost effective basis as determined by individual utilities and the regulator. Incentive-based approaches should be implemented where possible.