Homeowners, supermarket operators, manufacturers and other local organizations are stepping up to compete to provide electricity supply in York Region. This diverse group of providers have been selected through an auction to help meet growing local energy needs by either generating electricity on site or reducing their electricity use on demand. Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has partnered with Alectra Utilities to launch a ground-breaking electricity market that will test new supply options to address accelerating demand that is likely to exceed local system capabilities within the next 10 years.
Providers include aggregated residential customers with controllable smart thermostats, some of the region’s larger industrial consumers, and small-scale generators. They will earn revenue by committing to be available to provide energy when it’s needed and then reducing peaks when demand is high.
This 10MW demonstration project is focused on the southern-most part of the region, including Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. If requirements are met, this model could be replicated in other areas of the province experiencing rapid growth and system constraints.
Local energy assets – including small-scale generation, storage and demand response – known as distributed energy resources, currently make up about 10 per cent of Ontario’s electricity production capacity. These resources are changing the dynamic of power grids, which have traditionally relied on large generators producing power that is then transmitted across long distances into communities and homes.
Many communities across North America are considering ways in which these local assets could defer or eliminate the need to build costly new high-voltage power lines or stations. As the province begins to see its electricity surplus reduced in the years ahead, they could provide affordable alternatives to traditional solutions that rely on expanding transmission infrastructure.
With total funding of $10 million from the IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund and NRCan, this project will run from 2021 to 2022. The winning participants are listed below.