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IESO Seeks to Expand Market for Regulation, an Essential Grid-Balancing Service

June 22, 2016

As part of its ongoing efforts to broaden participation in Ontario's energy markets, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) today released a Request for Information (RFI) related to the provision of regulation, an essential service that helps maintain the balance between supply and demand.

Regulation is a contracted service that acts to match total system generation to total system load (plus transmission losses) on a second-by-second basis and helps to correct variations in power system frequency. When regulation is required, the IESO sends an automated signal to the regulation provider, instructing them to adjust the production (or consumption) of their facility to meet a new set point within a designated timeframe, often measured in seconds.

To ensure compliance with applicable reliability standards, the IESO is required to have sufficient regulation available at all times. This service is currently being provided by several generation facilities, including grid energy storage facilities.

The IESO wants to expand the regulation market in Ontario and is opening this RFI to both incumbent providers and potential new entrants into the regulation service marketplace. This RFI will enable the IESO to assess respondents' capabilities in the provision of regulation, including through the use of products and technologies not currently utilized in Ontario or specified in the IESO Market Rules. 

The IESO currently schedules up to 100 megawatts (MW) of regulation range on a day-to-day basis. Like many jurisdictions across North America, several factors are driving the need to expand the regulation market in Ontario, including:

  • the nature of forecasting the output of variable generation such as solar and wind resources;
  • the behaviour of distributed energy resources that are not subject to IESO dispatch instructions or fully integrated into the IESO's operational tools and processes; and
  • changing patterns in consumer demand for electricity resulting from conservation and energy efficiency, embedded generation and other factors that impact the accuracy of demand forecasts and dispatch decisions.

"This RFI marks the next stage in the evolution of Ontario's ancillary services market, building on our Alternative Technologies for Regulation project in 2012," said Kim Warren, the IESO's Vice-President of Market and System Operations and Chief Operating Officer. "As Ontario's supply mix continues to change, and as consumer behaviour becomes more difficult to predict, we need the right tools to maintain reliability. Through this RFI, we hope to determine how best to expand those sources of regulation that can meet our needs."

In advance of this RFI, the IESO posted on its website a sample of its regulation signal data, a step intended to help potential new entrants into the regulation market to assess, test and simulate various scenarios at their own facility using an actual sample of the IESO's regulation signal data. The data sample can be found here Ancillary Services Market.

This RFI is a precursor to a potential Request for Proposal (RFP) for regulation service. The form of any such RFP has not yet been determined but will be influenced by the aggregate responses to this RFI. The IESO will accept responses to the RFI until Friday, September 30, 2016 at 3 p.m. All related documents, including submission requirements, are available at

About the IESO

The IESO manages the province's power system so that Ontarians receive power when and where they need it. It plans and prepares for future electricity needs and works with its partners to guide conservation efforts. For more information, please visit

IESO Media Contact:

John Cannella

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