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Electricity 101

DER 101

July 16, 2021  |  Article

Ontario’s electricity system is changing. It used to be a simple matter of large generators transmitting power over long distances down into communities. And while that still happens, the electricity system of today is much more complex. New technologies, along with more engaged consumers and communities, has led to a much more diverse and decentralized system. This is creating a lot of opportunities for businesses and communities to get involved through the use of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs).

At least 5,000 MW of DERs have already been deployed in Ontario

Why do they matter?

Ontario’s electricity needs are growing, meeting the needs emerging over the next decade will require a proactive effort to enable the new kinds of supply options to participate in the Ontario electricity system and market.

DERs can contribute to reliability and affordability. They offer alternatives to traditional transmission and distribution infrastructure, and can help communities achieve their economic development and sustainability goals.

What opportunities are available for integration?

The IESO is looking at the following to better understand the role of DERs and to integrate them in the electricity system:

  • Greater coordination between provincial grid and local distribution networks
  • Enhancing DER competition in the provincial wholesale markets
  • Removing barriers to DERs as alternatives to traditional infrastructure

The IESO has been laying the foundation for future DER integration through research, pilots and partnerships. For example, a local electricity market in York Region is testing how supermarkets, manufacturers, and homeowners can reduce peak demands.

The work continues with the launch of the DER Roadmap engagement which will help set out the IESO objectives, initiatives and timing for the integration of DERs. You can learn more about the engagement by visiting the DER Roadmap webpage.


What are DERs?

A DER is an electricity resource that is connected to the local distribution system. They can store, generate or adjust electricity consumption. DERs are not all one and the same, they include rooftop solar, battery storage or consumers that can adjust energy use based on electricity price and other signals.