The report notes that tomorrow’s grid needs to accommodate “the future charging of millions of electric vehicles, the variable generation of thousands of wind turbines, or the electricity from tens of thousands of rooftop solar systems scattered across the province. Some grid automation and renewal has happened, but the majority of investment is still to come. To that end, the report argues that there is a need for more coordination to make sure “these future investments are made responsibly and in the best interests of residential, commercial, institutional and industrial ratepayers.”
Ontario is the first North American municipality to deploy a smart meter to every home and small business, thereby enabling the widespread introduction of time-of-use (TOU) pricing that better reflects the true cost of power generation. The Forum believes that as more consumers adjust their usage toward off-peak power times, this will lead to more efficient use of existing grid infrastructure and generating assets.
Similarly, an increasing number of commercial and industrial facilities are lowering their peak-time electricity consumption by participating in demand-response programs, which reduces the need of building new power plants.
The suggestions made in the report include the Ontario Ministry of Energy conducting an annual survey to assess consumer interest in smart home technologies; establishing an economic development task force to capitalize on the innovation; have the Ontario Ministry of Transportation track electric vehicle registration and provide this information to utilities; develop a framework to promote the deployment of energy storage within distribution networks; and track all smart-grid related complaints regarding the use of personal electricity consumption.
To assist customers, the Forum has created a Smart Home Roadmap that it says explains how the development of the smart grid over the next five, 10, and 20 years “will enable exciting new technologies and services for the home. This roadmap will inform policymaking over the coming years so the many benefits of the smart home can be fully realized.”
The Ontario Smart Grid Forum was established in 2008 to create a vision for the smart grid and help begin facilitating its development. In early 2009, the Forum published its first report, which it says “articulated a vision, reviewed the level of smart-grid development activity in Ontario and around the world, and made recommendations on how various stakeholders in the electricity sector should proceed with grid modernization.”
Materials from Forum meetings are available at www.ieso.ca/smartgridarchives. The Modernizing Ontario’s Electricity System report is available at www.ieso.ca/imoweb/pubs/smart_grid/Smart_Grid_Forum-Report-May_2011.pdf