Smart Grid

January 30, 2013

Ontario Seeks Smart Grid 'Sugar Daddies'

Canada may be “glorious and free,” according to its national anthem—but deploying a smart grid up north is getting pricier all the time. In fact, the Province of Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) estimates that an average investment of about $390 million per year, or $1.95 billion in total over five years, will be required in order to connect distributed generation, such as wind and solar, in an intelligent, cost-effective way.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that the government-backed Ontario Clean Technology Alliance, which is participating this week at the San Diego-based DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition – a major utility industry smart grid event – is inviting other attendees to invest in research and development (R&D) and advanced manufacturing that will help to build out the electricity system of Canada's largest, most populous province.

Over the past year, the Province of Ontario has taken a very active role in funding smart grid research and development projects that spur industry activity. Among the initiatives that that have received public-private backing are:

  • A $2.8-million Durham Smart Grid Demonstration Project, which represents collaboration among several Durham Strategic Energy Alliance members, including lead applicant Siemens (News - Alert) Canada, Oshawa PUC Networks, Whitby Hydro, Veridian Connections, Intellimeter, Energent WirelE, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Durham College, the City of Pickering and the Region of Durham. The project’s objective is to build a control center for three utilities that will facilitate interaction, control, dispatching, monitoring, asset condition assessment, and load modeling/ balancing of their systems. The project will create up to 29 new jobs in Durham Region.
  • A $1-million new Smart Grid Research Chair at the University of Waterloo, to be paid for over five years by Silicon Valley-based networking giant, Cisco (News - Alert). Professor Srinivasan Keshav, a specialist in “tetherless computing,” has been appointed to the Cisco Chair. He will engage in research and development of and innovation in the use of transformational business architectures, technologies and solutions for smart grids.
  • The grand opening of a $40-million Grid IQ Global Innovation Centre by General Electric Canada (GE), supported by $7.9-million from the Province. The state-of-the-art, 200,000- square-foot facility is designed to foster innovation and global collaboration to improve the efficiency, reliability and security of the world's electrical grids.

According to the Ontario Clean Technology Alliance, “Ontario is serious about Smart Grid efficiencies and energy conservation. The province's efforts have decreased electricity demand by over 1,900 megawatts (MW) between 2005 and 2011 – the equivalent of over 600,000 homes being taken off grid.”

The Alliance members include the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa Region, City of Hamilton, Waterloo Region, Niagara Region, Windsor-Essex, City of London, Sarnia-Lambton, City of Guelph, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent and the Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, as well as the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development (News - Alert) and Innovation, also support the alliance.

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Edited by Braden Becker