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IESO and OEB join forces to support innovative projects to help meet provinces growing energy needs

June 18, 2021

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Businesses and communities will soon be able to test innovative energy technologies and approaches thanks to a new partnership between the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).

The IESO Grid Innovation Fund (GIF) and the OEB Innovation Sandbox will hold a joint, targeted call later this year for submissions to support research and demonstration projects that have the potential to provide value to consumers and the grid. The IESO and the OEB are interested in innovative proposals that would test the capabilities of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) in providing services at both the local and provincial levels.

DERs generally refer to resources that produce, store or manage electricity and are connected to a local grid or on a customer’s premises. Some examples include rooftop solar panels, battery storage units and demand response devices, such as smart thermostats, that help reduce or shift consumers’ electricity usage.

With Ontario electricity demand increasing this decade, DERs have the potential to increase grid reliability, affordability and competition, as well as enhance value for consumers. The challenge is to harness these resources effectively so that they are integrated as part of the broader electricity system.

As the system becomes more diverse and complex, the IESO and the OEB are partnering to help identify and address some of the technical and regulatory barriers that can stand in the way of DERs fulfilling their potential. The IESO will offer financial support for innovative projects through its GIF that increase understanding of DER capabilities, how they can be integrated into electricity markets and the distribution system, and how they can contribute to the cost-effective and reliable operation of the grid. The OEB Innovation Sandbox will offer utilities and other companies carrying out GIF-funded projects assistance on regulatory aspects of their projects where required.

Further details about the joint, targeted call will be available on June 22 during the 2021 IESO Summit-Lite: Focus on Innovation.


“By working in partnership with the OEB, this initiative takes us even closer to ensuring that as a system operator, we have a line of sight that extends from the provincial system operator down to solar panels, storage and other local resources. This allows us to tap into these local resources and have them help keep the grid reliable during a time when the province’s electricity needs are growing.” – Katherine Sparkes, Director, Innovation, Research & Development, IESO.

“We are focused on solving energy challenges cost effectively and on facilitating innovation that can help achieve that goal. This partnership with the IESO is an important step in furthering our commitment to work with the sector to support long-term reliability and sustainability, and to deliver public value.” – Ceiran Bishop, Director, Strategic Policy, OEB.

Additional Information and Resources

About the Independent Electricity System Operator

The IESO operates Ontario’s power grid 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring Ontarians receive a reliable and cost-effective source of power when and where they need it. It works with sector partners and engages with communities across Ontario to plan and prepare for the province’s electricity needs now and into the future. The IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund advances innovative opportunities to achieve electricity bill savings for Ontario ratepayers by funding projects that either enable customers to better manage their energy consumption or that reduce the costs associated with maintaining reliable operation of the province’s grid.

About the Ontario Energy Board

The OEB is the independent regulator of Ontario’s electricity and natural gas sectors. It protects the interests of individuals and supports the collective advancement of the people of Ontario. Its goal is to deliver public value through prudent regulation and independent adjudicative decision-making which contributes to Ontario’s economic, social and environmental development. Through the OEB Innovation Sandbox, innovators can participate in candid, informal conversations with OEB staff in addition to customized guidance and assistance in requesting temporary relief from a regulatory requirement.


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