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Smart Grid

​The smart grid harnesses the power of information technologies to monitor, control, and optimize the usage of the electricity system. These efforts are designed to increase efficiency, reduce outages, integrate more renewable forms of generation, and empower consumers to more effectively control their energy use.  


Smart Grids: Connecting Consumers to the Control Room

Diagram of the connections between consumers and the control room    

Ontario's early implementation of smart meters gave the province a head start in smart grid deployment. Smart grids, however, redefine the way electricity consumers are connected to the system that serves them. Information technologies are not only putting more information in the hands of consumers, they also offer more control. By "connecting the customer to the control room," smart grids open up whole new possibilities - where consumers decide how much to use or sell depending on what the price is.

The provincial electricity sector has been working ever since to leverage smart grid capabilities across a broad range of applications, including the following key areas.

Demand Response ​

icon for demand responseDemand response refers to the ability of customers to actively respond to price signals and system conditions by increasing or reducing their electricity consumption. Smart grid technologies support greater levels of demand response by providing better monitoring, control, and automation of almost all aspects of consumers' energy use. These devices range from smart appliances in the home to sophisticated building control systems. Such technologies allow consumers to contribute to grid reliability without affecting their own comfort or convenience.

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Learn how the IESO uses demand response to help balance the grid on a second-to-second basis. 

Energy Storage

icon for energy storageEnergy storage can take many forms: from rechargeable batteries in electric vehicles to large facilities that compress​ and then release air to generate electricity. All have the potential to provide flexibility, efficiency, and support the integration of renewables like wind and solar.  The IESO and other organizations in Ontario's electricity sector are actively exploring ways to take advantage of new storage technologies in the province's power system.  

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Grid-LDC Coordination Initiative

The IESO is exploring opportunities to enhance reliability and efficiency through the coordination of IESO and local distribution company controlled resources, as well as better understanding the impact and potential for new technologies on the bulk power system. PowerStream, though its POWER.HOUSE project, is studying the potential of distributed energy resources as an alternative to wired solutions. Due to the complementary nature of these initiatives, the IESO and PowerStream have decided to work together on a grid/LDC coordination project to better understand their potential.

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Improving Distribution Service​​

icon for distributionLocal distribution companies are now using automated controls and sensors to quickly detect and isolate faults on the grid and then restore it with far greater speed and efficiency. These same technologies also help utilities use their local distribution networks more efficiently and incorporate small-scale wind and solar generation onto the lines and into the grid.

View PowerStream video presenting two projects the company has undertaken to develop its smart grid.

Web Portals, Data Access and Data Analytics​

icon for data accessMost Ontarians can now go online to access and view the consumption data collected from their smart meters. This helps them to better understand their energy usage as well as learn new ways to use it more efficiently. This is just the tip of the iceberg: consumers can also actively use energy data along with energy management devices in the home to participate in demand response initiatives. The aggregate data will also help utilities plan for future energy needs and support research into almost every aspect of the electricity system's future development​.

Read how customers can safely download their electricity usage data through participating utilities using the Green Button.

Smart Energy Networks

icon for smart energy networksOntarians rely on various forms of energy to do everything from heat their homes, to power their cars, and supply hot water. Smart Energy Networks can help it all flow far more efficiently � taking the widest possible view on how to better meet energy needs and align these various sources to create a more efficient and sustainable energy system. Similar to the smart grid concept, Smart Energy Networks bring together a number of disciplines related to the electricity sector, including: urban planning, building design, district heating, thermal storage, transportation, and the environment.

Smart Homes​

icon for smart homesConsumers are increasingly embracing new home technologies like​ Internet or network-connected smart appliances, energy storage and sophisticated home automation systems. These technologies not only afford greater convenience and reliability, they are also accelerating innovation in areas like home entertainment and home security. In aggregate, these investments can provide powerful capabilities that can benefit the entire power grid.  

Learn more about the Smart Home of the future.

 Local or Distributed  Generation

solar panel iconAround the world, more consumers are choosing to produce their own electrical energy, as the costs of solar, combined heat and power, and other emerging technologies continue to fall in price.  Smart grid technologies enable local utility companies to integrate these new sources of generation into the system and harness their benefits for reliability and extending the life of their own assets. 

Ontario Smart Grid Forum​

The Ontario Smart Grid Forum includes member organizations from Ontario's utility sector, industry associations, public agencies and universities working together to guide the development of the smart grid in Ontario. The Forum has also prepared a series of reports on the grid's evolution in the province.

Read Ontario Smart Grid Forum Publications, including assessments of progress made in smart grid development.

Interactive Tools

The Ontario Smart Grid

man entering smart grid OntarioLearn how the Ontario power system is changing through smart grids

Kilowatt Way                

KWW.png Build your online home and customize appliances to your use. See how time-of-use shifting and energy efficiency can make a difference

Time-of-Use Rates at Work

icon for small business toolThis simple guide for small businesses on time-of-use prices

Smart Home Roadmap

icon for smart home roadmapClick through the roadmap to see how smart homes could evolve in Ontario over the next 20 years

Selected Research

Evolving the smart grid requires deeper understanding of core issues such as consumer engagement and standards. Common technology standards will enable the development of new products and services.  At the same time, consumer research will ensure that these new tools are designed with the end-user in mind.

  • Smart Grids in the North American Context: A summary report from a policy conference co-hosted by the IESO, Natural Resources Canada, the University of Waterloo and the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Related Links 

More information is available from various organizations and associations focused on smart grid issues:

  • SmartGrid Canada - The national organization dedicated to promoting a modern and efficient electricity grid for Canadians
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Smart Grid - The IEEE is a professional organization providing electrical and electronics engineers with expertise, research and resources on all aspects of the electricity industry - this site is focuses on the smart grid
  • National Town Hall for Demand Response - This event, organized by the Association for Demand Response and Smart Grid focuses on  business and policy issues related of demand response and supporting technologies. Presentations by speakers are included in this site.
  • SmartGrid.gov (U.S. Department of Energy) - The U.S. government provides a wide range of resources on smart grid technologies and initiatives through this site
  • Smart Grid Interoperability Panel - The SGIP engages brings together stakeholders in smart grid sector to discuss and consult on standards issues
  • International Smart Grid Action Network  - This organization promotes collaboration amongst governments to advance the development  smarter  grid technologies, practices, and systems
  • QUEST Canada - Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow, or QUEST,  is a national non-profit organization promoting the development of smart energy communities that use integrated energy solutions that link land use, buildings, transportation, waste, water, and related infrastructure