Innovation Roadmap work plan

The first Innovation Roadmap is the culmination of the IESO’s efforts to identify and assess key challenges and opportunities to advancing innovation in the electricity sector. Once identified, these informed the development of the IESO’s nine core areas of focus, which were then prioritized based on their impact on the IESO’s ability to maintain a reliable and cost-effective system. Projects that support these goals are divided by category – research and white papers, demonstration/evaluation projects, capital projects and process improvements and partnerships and capability building – and set out in a multi-year innovation work plan.

Consult the work plan for the full list of projects in each category, and information on how they support our reliability and cost-effectiveness goals.

Research and white papers

Research and white papers* will create a shared, fact-based understanding of emerging economic, technical, environmental, and social issues likely to impact the electricity sector. They will provide transparent and objective information to inform policy, planning and investment decisions.

*Unless otherwise indicated, all projects without a launch date are either in progress or will be launched in 2019.

Project Name

Cost-effectiveness and reliability

Consumer empowerment: understanding the impact of choice on the grid

Purpose: Explore consumer preferences regarding generation source/type; willingness to pay for preferences; interest in participating in energy storage/generation, as well as emerging technologies that could affect energy use and potential adoption rates.

Over the long term, enable customer choice and improve forecasting and planning, leading to lower costs and greater assurance of reliability in light of changing consumer preferences.

Non-wires alternatives: markets and transmission-distribution operability

Purpose: Leverage IESO expertise in market design and resource acquisition to outline design options for non-wires alternatives (NWAs) and requirements for the transmission-distribution interface to ensure reliable system and local market operations.

Improve the IESO’s ability to identify and leverage NWAs, where they are the lowest-cost option, and ensure the reliable operation of NWAs in the marketplace.

Distribution sector evolution: structural options

Purpose: Working with the Energy Transformation Network of Ontario, assess the potential impact of distribution sector evolution on IESO operations, while recognizing the unique characteristics of Ontario’s electricity markets and the need to demonstrate value to consumers.


Enhance understanding of options for distribution sector evolution to facilitate discussions about the future state of the grid with sector participants and policymakers, and help improve reliability as uptake of distributed energy resources (DERs) increases.

Framework for integrating DERs in IESO-administered markets (IAM)

Purpose: Help remove barriers to participation of distributed energy resources (DERs) in IAM by developing a conceptual framework to inform appropriate minimum thresholds and aggregation models, and consider the extent to which DER attributes can be value stacked.

Promote the most cost-effective outcomes, improve planning and increase competition, while ensuring the IESO has the tools to effectively accommodate the integration of DERs into IAM.

Recommending appropriate real-time visibility of DERs

Engage with local distribution companies, the Ontario Energy Board, Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, consumers and other stakeholders to develop recommendations with respect to levels of visibility with respect to DERs and aggregate resources.

Proposed start year: 2021

Improve IESO forecasting to lower risk of under- or over-scheduling of resources and improve dispatch decisions leading to greater reliability (e.g., preparation for ramping events).


The impact of decarbonized economies on wholesale electricity markets

Following engagement with consumers, industry, academia and government, develop a framework that considers how socio-economic and environmental policy will be integrated into the IESO’s decision-making framework.

Proposed start year: 2021

Improve decision-making by identifying the most cost-effective approaches to achieving goals, and helping ensure the IESO is prepared for operational considerations associated with a changing resource mix.


AI and machine learning: electricity sector implications

Research how the IESO can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in areas ranging from the improvement of forecasting of electricity demand and understanding the behaviour of DERs.

Proposed start year: 2020

Better align procurement of resources with electricity demand and help ensure the IESO is prepared for the operational considerations associated with a changing resource mix.


Call for papers: Understanding the potential of electrified transportation

Engage with stakeholders and conduct research with respect to the rate of adoption of electrified transportation and the types of services and products that may be provided as a result of its adoption.

Proposed start year: 2020

Use insights to inform planning aimed at meeting emerging consumer demands, and enabling more resources to compete in IAM, and prepare for the uptake of non-traditional loads.


Call for papers: New demand-response products and services

Research and engage with industry stakeholders with respect to the development of new demand-response products and participation types to facilitate the deeper integration of demand-side resources within the IAM.

Proposed start year: 2021

Enable greater competition within the IAM by removing barriers to demand-side resources and identify new/existing DR products and services that can contribute to meeting Ontario’s supply needs.


Demonstration and evaluation projects

Demonstration and evaluation projects* will identify and evaluate the potential of new solutions to improve electricity system reliability and cost-effectiveness. Projects will help us understand market, system, policy, and regulatory barriers and potential solutions to enable new resources.

*Unless otherwise indicated, all projects without a launch date are either in progress or will be launched in 2019.

Project Name

Cost-effectiveness and reliability benefit(s)

Methods for generating distribution-level locational price signals to enable DER integration

Purpose: With Opus One Solutions, Toronto Hydro, Hydro Ottawa and Lakeland Power, test methods for generating distribution-level locational price signals to enable economically efficient and reliable integration of DERs on the grid.

Leverage learnings to inform both the framework for cost-effective integration and utilization of DERs, and the impact of increased DER penetration on IESO system operations.

Phase 1 energy storage program: leveraging learnings

Purpose: Use the IESO’s Phase 1 energy storage program to gain early experience with the registration, commissioning and operation of energy storage facilities.

Inform how the IESO can remove barriers and enable greater competition in IAMs, and drive understanding of the capabilities and use of energy storage.

Alternative technologies for regulation (ATR) program

Purpose: Use ongoing work of ATR program to determine the merits of two new wholesale market products that leverage the fast-ramping capabilities of energy storage: fast regulation service and synthetic inertia service.                         

Better understand the value of enabling new – or enhancing existing – products and services in the IAM, and evaluate the potential of new resources to enable lower latency responses to system conditions.

Non-wires alternatives (NWAs) to traditional transmission and distribution assets

Purpose: Demonstrate an NWA market for DERs, with a focus on the transmission-distribution interface, to provide both system-level and local electricity services in York Region, deferring infrastructure needs identified in the region’s Integrated Regional Resource Plan (IRRP).

Improve the IESO’s ability to leverage NWAs as lower-cost solutions, and ensure the reliable operations of NWAs in IESO markets and other local markets.

Energy efficiency (EE) as a capacity resource pilot auction

Purpose: With stakeholder input, design and pilot a competitive mechanism to procure energy efficiency as a capacity resource to understand potential challenges/solutions to market, regulatory and policy issues and possible solutions to enable the fair competition of energy efficiency in markets.

Better understand the costs and characteristics of EE as a capacity resource to facilitate greater competition for the provision of the capacity required to maintain system reliability.

Capital projects and process improvements

Updating our tools and processes* will enable the fair competition of cost-effective innovative solutions in IESO-administered markets, improve the efficiency of IESO processes and systems and build internal capabilities.

*Unless otherwise indicated, all projects without a launch date are either in progress or will be launched in 2019.

Project Name

Cost-effectiveness and reliability benefit(s)

DR enhancements: improving the value of hourly demand response

Purpose: In response to stakeholder engagement with the Demand Response Working Group, improve the value of hourly demand response (HDR) through changes to the minimum dispatch duration and real-time availability requirements.


Enhance the ability of DR resources to provide cost-effective capacity services in the market, avoiding costs associated with more expensive resources and providing a more reliable product.

Addressing barriers to implementing NWAs in regional planning

Purpose: Identify barriers to the implementation of cost-effective NWAs (such as DERs) in the regional planning process, and recommend options to address them, including potential legislative or regulatory changes.

Enable a more cost-competitive alternative to traditional wires solutions, and one that might be more effective and timely in meeting local reliability needs.

Improving energy adequacy assessments: zeroing in on resource needs

Purpose: Improve energy adequacy assessments, including how various technologies are modelled or represented, to more accurately represent system needs and their impact on the electricity system.

Improve planning assumptions and decisions, both to prevent the under- or over-procurement of products and services, and ensure appropriate resources are available to meet system needs.

Smart Meter Entity’s third-party access to de-identified smart meter data

Purpose: Develop an implementation plan with respect to enabling third-party access to smart meter data for ethical purposes, and ensuring that data privacy and security remain paramount. The plan will include a monetization model to create a net ratepayer benefit. (Note: This is consistent with EB-2018-0316, the IESO’s application, in its capacity as the SME, to the OEB for approval to provide access to certain non-personal data to third parties at market prices.)

Monetize the value of de-identified data, improving cost-effectiveness by using the proceeds to benefit ratepayers.

Expanding participation in operating reserve (OR)
Increase the MW quantity of OR supply offers by increasing the number of resources (e.g., wind, solar, storage or demand response) that can participate in OR.


Increase competition in the OR market and decrease the likelihood of reaching scarcity pricing, while enabling the integration on the grid of OR resources that provide a valued reliability service.

Enhancing the forecasting process, tools and methodology for variable loads

Purpose: Obtain better data from variable loads to enhance the forecast methodology and improve forecast accuracy, by developing a process to update the methodology for DERs (contracted and non-contracted), and by updating solar and wind profiles using GHI data.

Improve planning assumptions and decisions, both to prevent the under- or over-procurement of products and services, and to help ensure appropriate resources are available to meet system needs.

Energy storage resources in automatic generator control (AGC) tool

Purpose: Upgrade the AGC tool to ensure energy storage resources providing regulation services can be modelled and integrated appropriately in the tool. The AGC tool today does not adequately model energy limited resources (e.g., does not consider state of change of energy storage).

Proposed start year: 2021

Remove barriers to enable the IESO to secure ancillary services from new resources (such as energy storage) that contribute to reliable electricity supply.

Partnerships and capability building

Partnerships* will share the costs and risks associated with learning, capability building and enabling innovation. They also increase awareness of proven solutions and identify pathways for full-scale deployment and integration to support system cost-effectiveness and reliability.

*Unless otherwise indicated, all projects without a launch date are either in progress or will be launched in 2019.

Project Name

Cost-effectiveness and reliability benefit(s)

Developing a data strategy: harnessing the value of IESO data

Purpose: Building on internal learnings and stakeholder input, the IESO will enhance access to IESO data by developing a roadmap for a long-term data strategy that will prioritize improved data governance, enterprise architecture and a sustainable data model for the future.

Proposed start year: 2020

Help enable effective decision-making by IESO market participants and reduce costs by creating operational efficiencies and improving access to IESO data.

HR strategy: driving innovation by building a high-performance culture

Purpose: Implement a three-year strategy aimed at helping the IESO attract and retain top talent, achieve organizational agility and performance targets, develop strong business/people leaders and enhance the organization’s reputation among stakeholders as a strategic and valued partner.

Ensure the IESO is able to retain top talent, leading to better performance on business metrics and improved problem-solving capabilities across the organization.

IESO cybersecurity executive briefings: maximizing sector knowledge

Purpose: Host annual cybersecurity discussion with leaders from around the world to discuss cybersecurity strategies and share the latest approaches to effective risk management across Ontario’s electricity sector.

Continually evolve information-sharing and cybersecurity best practices, to help reduce or eliminate risks to the reliability of the grid.

Cyber defence: sharing cyber threats with the sector in near real-time

Purpose: Leveraging our own 24/7 cybersecurity centre and partnership with the Communications Security Establishment, the IESO will share cyber threat intelligence with participating utilities on a near real-time basis.         

Strengthen reliability and resilience of the grid by providing a sector-wide data-sharing service that avoids costly duplication of cybersecurity efforts and resources.

Partnerships in cybersecurity collaboration: the Canada-Israel connection

Purpose: In conjunction with the Canadian Israel Industrial Research Foundation, foster a collaborative relationship focused on cybersecurity innovation with the Israeli Innovation Authority and its world-class and globally connected evaluation network.

Help protect critical infrastructure in Ontario’s energy sector from cyber threats through insights with respect to Israeli cyber technological capabilities.

Ancillary services forecast: improving market signals
Purpose: Recognizing the role of transparent market signals in efficient investment decisions, develop a publicly available forecast of required ancillary services to accompany existing IESO reporting and forecasting.

Improve investment signals and competition by sharing required information with suppliers, and enhance planning with respect to ancillary services to meet overall system reliability needs.

Developing guiding principles for power system resiliency
Purpose: Given the increased sector-wide focus on electricity system resiliency, develop a set of resiliency principles to guide decision-making with respect to planning, operating and investing in the grid.

Provide the IESO with more tools to operate a reliable system, and prepare the sector for the changing nature of the power system and evolving reliability threats.