Ontario electricity users are starting to see the benefits of investing in technologies that can help manage their consumption – and their costs. New research from the Independent Electricity System Operator shows that already a third of all Ontario electricity consumers are using some form of technology that enables them to control their energy use in ways that can save money and help meet system needs.
These technologies include solar panels, electric vehicles (EVs) and charging systems, load control devices, smart appliances and other household devices, heat pumps, microgrids and more. To inform its decision-making about how best to integrate these resources and to prepare for changing energy use patterns, the IESO commissioned Ipsos Public Affairs to conduct a broad-based survey of consumer electricity preferences and behaviours. Survey participants represented three segments: residential, small business and commercial/industrial consumers.
The survey results show that electricity users choose to actively manage their consumption for different reasons. Across the board, Ontario consumers prioritize cost and reliability. Power quality is also important to small business and commercial and industrial consumers, while approximately one in 10 consumers across all groups indicate that non-emitting electricity is the most important factor.
Percentage of Consumers Very Likely to Install DERs
Commercial / Industrial
Combined Heat and Power
Battery Energy Storage
Solar PV + Battery Energy Storage
WiFi-enabled Electric Water Heater
Air source Heating/Cooling Electric Heat Pump
Electric Vehicle Charging Station
Natural Gas Generator
Load Control Device
The table above shows the percentage of consumers who rated they were very likely (8-10/10) to install DERs in the next few years. Relatively more popular technologies (equal or more than 10%) are shaded in green. Residential and small business consumers are more open to installing smart thermostats.
There is growing interest in distributed energy resources (DERs), with some consumers saying they intend to adopt one or more new technologies in the next few years. For example, nearly four in 10 Ontario consumers – across all three customer segments surveyed – say they’re likely to consider installing solar panels on their properties in the future.
Given their short payback period, residential and small business customers seem most interested in using smart thermostats and smart water heaters to control their consumption and save money. By contrast, commercial and industrial customers lean towards solar with battery energy storage installations, as well as electric vehicles and charging stations. These technologies provide opportunities for customers to reduce their carbon footprint and costs while reinforcing the resilience of their operations.
In addition to meeting local needs, these resources also have the potential to contribute to the reliability of the system as a whole. These important contributions can take many forms. Whether it’s aggregating EV batteries to provide energy, battery storage facilities providing capacity, or businesses reducing their usage during peak hours, consumers can now supply the grid.
The key piece is knowledge about the DER technologies. Across all consumer types, the likelihood of installing DERs and other technologies is highest among those with greater knowledge.