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Research and Pilots

The Value of Smart Meter Data

November 04, 2022  |  Article

Mapping Electricity Consumption Data to Plan for a Community's Future

What does it take to transition to a low-carbon, sustainable energy future? For Oxford County, this is not a hypothetical question. In 2015, the County set a goal to do just that through the adoption of local renewable generation, energy efficiency and make the switch to more electric vehicles.

To get started, the County needed more granular data about how electricity was being used within the community. Up-to-date residential-level energy consumption data could help the County planners make better decisions for the future - such as predicting its future energy consumption patterns, pinpointing periods of high demand, assessing the impact of different fuel-switching and conservation efforts, and identifying local renewable generation opportunities.

Oxford County

Enter smart meter data

As part of a pilot project, the IESO’s Smart Metering Entity provided Oxford County with aggregated electricity consumption data from smart meters installed in residential locations and small businesses in the area. By correlating the smart meter data with other data sources - including municipal property assessments, spatial land use analysis and cumulative information on the use of different fuels - the County aims to create an energy dashboard that tracks how energy consumption is shifting across the County.

Using the aggregated data from one postal code as a prototype, we mapped out different profiles of residential homes based on their size and age.

Peter Crockett, Chief Administrative Officer, Oxford County

"We then used that data to generate typical load profiles for various residence type - creating a baseline scenario for homeowners. Ultimately, this will be incorporated into an online tool that allows people to either enter data from their electrical bills or use the baselines we’ve created to analyze how their energy bills and energy output would be affected if they adopt different measures - like switching to electric vehicles, adding solar panels or replacing their furnace," explains Peter.

A goldmine of information

By integrating smart meter data into this visual dashboard, Oxford County hopes to engage local residents in a range of energy efficiency initiatives expected to save the County over $20 million in utility costs and 41,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2050, not to mention the savings on ratepayer energy bills.

"The value of the smart meter data is that it allows us to create strategic action plans and initiatives targeted to specific demographics," Peter Crockett says. "Instead of having a blanket approach to everyone in the community, we can gear our programs and policies to certain areas or sectors. To do this, however, we need to paint a picture of overall energy use throughout the County. Currently, we track electricity and fuel use in areas such as agricultural and in the water and wastewater space, but residential and small business use has always been the missing piece. The smart meter data lets us close that gap."

Patrick Darby, Senior Energy Engineer at WalterFedy, an engineering firm working with Oxford County to turn its vision into reality, agrees. "The smart meter data provides a goldmine of information we wouldn’t otherwise have available," he says "It’s light years ahead of what we can get about other forms of energy consumption. Through analysis of this data, we can identify - in the moment - how electrical loads change as people transition to more energy-efficient solutions, and quantify the positive effects of the transitions we’re aiming to make within our society."

To date, Oxford County has been using the smart meter data to refine its approach to consumer education in a bid to encourage more energy-efficient behaviours and choices. Going forward, however, the County hopes to tailor these messages to audiences - creating more customized programs to deliver measurable and long-lasting results.