Smart Grid

November 20, 2012

Ontario 'Homies' to Help Test Smart Grid Solutions

Ottawa, Canada-based Energate Inc., a provider of demand response and home energy management solutions, has been awarded an investment of $2.9 million by the Ontario Ministry of Energy's Smart Grid Fund in support of its Consumer Engagement for the Smart Grid (CESG) project.

The investment – with an in-kind match from Energate, for a total of $5.8 million – will fund a demonstration project of smart energy innovations within up to 1,000 homes across Ontario through the end of 2013.

Energate will partner with six local distribution companies (LDC) throughout the province – Cambridge & North Dumfries Hydro, Hydro One, Hydro Ottawa, Peterborough Utilities, PowerStream and Veridian Connections – to implement the program, which is expected to commercialize Energate products and technology for broad consumer engagement in the smart grid.

"This project will stimulate consumer engagement in home energy management by extending Ontario's smart grid directly into the home," said Veridian's President and CEO Michael Angemeer. "We are pleased to be working with Energate based on the company's proven track record of empowering consumers to control their energy consumption with a choice of user-friendly devices and applications."

The project will provide and evaluate state-of-the-art solutions that enable consumers to manage and control their home energy use with smart thermostats, mobile smartphone applications, energy "dashboards" and Web portals.

Specifically, the project will build upon Energate's Consumer-Connected Demand Response (CCDR) platform – a platform that has been approved for the Ontario peaksaver PLUS program and is currently being deployed in some regions of the province.

Aside from the proven benefits of grid reliability and generation asset utilization, utilities can avoid building new power plants by motivating consumers to conveniently shift electricity demand without disrupting their lifestyle. Managing energy use is especially valuable when renewable energy sources are adopted and commercialized, and when new electric loads such as electric vehicles are added.

Energate has over 20 utility customers in the United States, and has proven interoperability with more than 10 smart grid technology partners.

Participants using Energate's technology in pilot tests were able to reduce their coincident peak demand by 50 percent – and in some cases, reduce their overall monthly bill by up to 30 percent.

The technology to be deployed in the SGF demonstration project will enable LDCs to experiment with new approaches to make their distribution grid more efficient. With the commercialization of new consumer engagement tools, it is expected that more homeowners will embrace the technology that provides benefits to the power grid and the consumer, while reducing greenhouse gases. The instantaneous feedback available from Energate's CCDR solution will facilitate real-time evaluation of the impact of these strategies.

"Energate is pleased that the Ministry has recognized the importance of providing Ontarians with advanced technology to control their home energy use," said Energate CEO Niraj Bhargava. "The benefits of Ontario's smart grid can truly be realized by providing consumers and utilities with the tools they need to easily and effectively manage home energy use."

“Smart grid technologies are the digital way of the future. It's like taking our energy infrastructure from rotary phone technology to that of a smart phone. Projects like Energate's will also help develop the talents and skills Ontarians need for the jobs of tomorrow,” commented Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley.

"When cutting-edge technologies and expertise are cultivated in the province,” he said, “everybody wins."

To oversee planning and execution of this major initiative, Energate has created a CESG Advisory Board, which is meeting today for the first time at the company’s new Ottawa world headquarters. The board comprises members and observers from leading utilities, trade organizations and academia, including Peter Delaney, CEO at Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E); Bryce Conrad, CEO at Hydro Ottawa; Lisa Wood, executive director of the Energy Efficiency Institute; Brian Bentz, president and CEO at PowerStream; Myles D'Arcey, senior vice president, Customer Operations at Hydro One; Laura Formusa , president and CEO at Hydro OneRemote Communities; and Niraj Bhargava, CEO at Energate – with additional observers, Mark Carpenter, senior vice president of T&D Operations and Measurement Services, Oncor; Paul Murphy, Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), president and CEO, and Xavier Debane, senior director, Corporate Strategy, Rogers Communications (News - Alert).

The CESG Advisory Board will meet quarterly to provide guidance to the program and its technology innovation path.

 "I am pleased to be a member of this advisory board, with colleagues who share my passion about moving smart grid and residential demand response programs to the next level of consumer engagement," said Pete Delaney, CEO at OG&E. “I look forward to sharing my insights based on the extensive learning in our Positive Energy (News - Alert) deployment that includes our partnership with Energate."

"We are delighted to be working with Energate and Ontario's Smart Grid Fund to help demonstrate and provide further value for Ottawa residential consumers," said Bryce Conrad, CEO at Hydro Ottawa. "Hydro Ottawa remains committed to helping consumers understand and capitalize on the many benefits offered by extending the smart grid to the home."

Edited by Braden Becker