Ontario Energy Board sets out expectations for smart grid investments


Toronto, ON, Canada — (METERING.COM) — February 12, 2013 – In a new report the Ontario Energy Board has set out guidance and expectations for smart grid investments by the province’s distributors and other entities such as the Ontario Power Authority, the Independent Electricity System Operator, and the Smart Metering Entity.

The 34-page Supplemental Report on Smart Grids seeks to provide “holistic” guidance, without prescribing specific investments, technologies, targets, etc., and is founded on the performance-based approach of Ontario’s renewed regulatory framework.

The guidance covers the three objectives of customer control, power system flexibility, and adaptive infrastructure.

Customer engagement is seen as an essential activity, and in their investment plans the regulated entities must demonstrate that they have undertaken activities to understand their customers’ preferences (e.g. data access and visibility, participating in distributed generation, and load management) and how they have addressed those preferences. In particular, the two requirements that should be met are that the activities facilitate customer education and support access to electricity consumption data.

Among the requirements for power system flexibility are that the regulated entities must demonstrate how they have incorporated necessary investments to facilitate the integration of distributed generation and more complex loads (e.g. customers with self-generation and/or storage capability).

The regulated entities must also demonstrate that they have investigated opportunities for operational efficiencies and improved asset management, enabled by more and better data provided by smart grid technology.

The report also sets outs guidance on evaluation and performance measurement, based on the objectives of efficiency, customer value, and reliability; safety; cybersecurity and privacy; coordination and interoperability; economic development; and the environmental benefits. Of these cybersecurity and interoperability will require further input based on developments in other jurisdictions. However, in general the Board does not expect to approve expenditures which are not otherwise cost effective, prudent, long term investments

The board also notes that its thinking regarding smart grid will evolve over time as investments are made, existing infrastructure is renewed and replaced, new technologies emerge, and standard methodologies and protocols arise, and further guidance may then be issued.