Smart Grid projects in Ajax and Oshawa getting research dollars

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Published November 11, 2021 at 1:57 pm

Smart grid projects are earning the smart money after the crown corporation responsible for operating Ontario’s electricity announced it is investing $1.4 million to test smart grid platforms that more efficiently co-ordinate energy use and supply on a local level.

Additional funding of $2 million is being provided by project partners.

“Small-scale electricity supply in communities is growing rapidly with local generation, storage and demand response projects becoming increasingly cost-effective and reliable,” explained Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) President and Chief Executive Officer Lesley Gallinger. “As grid operator, we see great potential for communities to help meet their own energy needs, but also help us in our work to ensure reliability across the province. These projects will help make that happen.”

With more than 5,000 megawatts of local energy supply available in Ontario, communities are playing an increasing role in providing for their own energy needs.

Through its Grid Innovation Fund, the IESO is supporting three pilot projects that demonstrate how locally-based supply can operate in tandem with broader grid operations. Each focus on a different aspect of interoperability between local distribution networks and the provincial grid.

Elexicon Energy of Ajax, which is the utility of record for Pickering, Whitby, Clarington and Belleville as well, is involved with two of the three projects, including one titled Creating Local Energy Markets, a simulation project which will model how local distribution companies can operate dynamic local electricity markets, similar to the IESO wholesale market operating at the provincial level. It is a partnership three other utilities with IESO providing $480,000 to the project with additional investments of $1.1 million from project partners.

“Elexicon Energy is excited to be apart of this amazing venture with Powerconsumers Inc., Newmarket-Tay Power Distribution and NODES-tech, said President & CEO Indy Butany-DeSouza, who replaced Gallinger at Elexicon earlier this year. “The innovative technology used in this project leads us into the future of electricity that may provide lower rates, offer choices and greener energy solutions for our customers.”

Elexicon has also joined forces with four other local utilities on a project called Co-ordinating Provincial and Local Electricity Networks. This project will provide a platform that brings together real-time energy supply and consumption information at the local level – giving local hydro companies a more detailed view of local energy sources within their systems and identifying where local suppliers can provide energy to meet local demand. Survalent, London Hydro, Waterloo North Hydro, and Oakville Hydro are collaborating with Elexicon on the project. The IESO is providing $500,000 to the project with additional investments of $500,000 from project partners.

“Local energy supply is playing an important role as part of Ontario’s electricity grid, helping communities meet their own energy needs and supporting the grid as a whole,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “The IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund, and the projects it’s supporting, will test and demonstrate how we can improve the integration of distributed energy resources with the goal of improving reliability and affordability for customers.”

Oshawa Power is participating in the third IESO initiative, Enhancing Local Electricity Demand Forecasts.

A new tool using real-time utility data and machine-learning techniques will be developed to create improved, hyper-local demand forecasts. More agile planning will help optimize the use of solar panels, energy storage and electric vehicles to meet local needs. This project is a partnership with Peak Power, Oshawa Power, and EnerFORGE. Funding amounts of $425,000 will be provided by the IESO and an additional $425,000 from project partners.

Smart grid technologies look to reduce energy costs for customers, improve the reliability and resilience of the distribution system and lead to more sustainable outcomes in the communities they serve.

By supporting the development of local energy supplies, smart grid technologies also reduce reliance on the provincial grid and the need to build large infrastructure such as transmission lines and large generators. “The three exciting projects announced here will each focus on a different aspect of interaction with local distribution networks and the provincial grid,” said Stephen Crawford, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy.

Since its inception in 2006, the IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund has supported 230 projects.

With files from Gene Pereira

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