Smart grid is a necessity for Ontario

Paul Murphy,
Chairman, Ontario
Smart Grid Forum
Toronto, ON, Canada — (METERING.COM) — February 5, 2009 – A coordinated effort to increase reliability, develop economic opportunities and promote environmental sustainability through smart grid technologies in Ontario is needed, according to the Ontario Smart Grid Forum in its report “Enabling Tomorrow’s Electricity System.”
“Now, more than ever, the move to create a smarter, more integrated electricity grid is an absolute necessity for Ontario,” said IESO president and CEO and Forum chairman, Paul Murphy. “We need a more flexible and resilient power system to support the rapid growth of renewable generation and conservation in the province.”
The report represents the work of 10 leaders from within Ontario’s electricity industry (see Electricity sector leaders commit to Ontario Smart Grid Forum) who looked at the various aspects of smart grid technologies and how they should be deployed and integrated in the province.

The report says that over the past few years, Ontario has undertaken bold initiatives that both underscore the need for a smart grid and help move towards it. For example, to reduce the environmental footprint of the electricity sector, the province has required the shut-down of its coal-fired generation and has procured renewable generation sources to meet future electricity needs. The province has also worked to create a culture of conservation, and its rollout of smart meters represents an essential first step in realizing the benefits of a smart grid for consumers.

However, the full promise of these initiatives will not be realized without the advanced technologies that make the smart grid possible. The challenges that Ontario faces in simultaneously incorporating distribut¬ed generation, addressing growth, and replacing aging infrastructure while maintaining reliability and qual¬ity of service are daunting. While new grid infrastructure will be necessary to connect generation resources, replace aging assets and address growth, simply adding wires and equipment without intelligence is not a viable option.

The report says the rapid development of a smart grid to benefit electricity consumers and advance environmental initiatives should be the policy of Ontario. The provincial government should facilitate the development of the province’s smart grid through legislation and regulation to clarify roles, set standards and promote investment.
In order to plan and operate the grid reliably and efficiently, distributors, transmitters, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and IESO should work together on the monitoring requirements, operation, and contractual and pricing arrangements for distribution connected generation, energy storage, and responsive load.

In order to develop a plan for enabling plug-in electric vehicles in Ontario, a task force led by the ministry of economic development should be created with representatives from the auto and electricity sectors and universities.

A task force should also be created to produce a framework for smart grid research in Ontario. The utilities, IESO, OPA, universities and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) should conduct research and development related to smart grids.
The report says the Forum sees value in continuing to champion smart grid progress, monitor ongoing developments and advocate common approaches where they make sense. To this end, an enduring organization to promote smart grid development with a broader base of representation may be appropri¬ate in the future. The Forum will consider this further in its future discussions.

“Ongoing initiatives, growing consumer interest, new technologies, articulated policy direction and economic pressures to increase efficiency and performance are all converging to create an unprecedented opportunity for bold initiatives in Ontario to realize the potential offered by a smart grid,” says the report. “Ontario should seize the chance to become a leader in developing and deploying smart grid technologies to benefit its citizens and enhance its economy.”