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News and Updates

A message to our partners and stakeholders from IESO President & CEO Peter Gregg

March 26, 2020

With news about the global COVID-19 pandemic evolving rapidly, one thing hasn’t changed: the IESO’s focus on ensuring Ontarians have affordable electricity when and where they need it. In the face of profound uncertainty, it’s more important than ever that we work together to keep the lights on – and give the families, communities and businesses that depend on us one less thing to worry about.

At the IESO, this means being prepared for the unexpected which, as the province’s electricity reliability coordinator, is already second nature. Using evidence to predict future needs and modelling a number of scenarios is what we do every day, and we’ve brought that same rigour to our business continuity and pandemic planning, monitoring the situation and adapting our plans as new information becomes available.

In addition to ensuring the power system is operating reliably, we are having daily conversations with generators, transmitters and distributors to share information and ensure we are collectively prepared. We are also in close contact with our counterparts across North America, including the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC). The ESCC created this helpful guide for the electricity industry that provides information and options to consider when making localized decisions in response to the current pandemic.

Operationally, we have taken a number of steps to protect power system operations, including having the majority of our employees work from home, limiting control room access, isolating control room crews from each other, and coordinating with other system operators to share best practices. To maintain ongoing dialogue with our partners and stakeholders, we are continuing to engage with you, but through webinars or conference calls.

Given that balancing the supply and demand for electricity is at the heart of our mandate, we’re also evaluating the impact of COVID-19 on power system demand and refining our load forecast to reflect those changes. Although the situation remains fluid, we are starting to see trends emerge, with electricity demand falling, as more businesses temporarily close their operations, and consumption patterns reflect new work-from-home schedules.

Demand graph

We expect the government closure of all non-essential businesses will further reduce demand, and we saw an indication of that yesterday. While demand is being reduced overall, we are seeing an increase in residential demand as people work from home. Reduced electricity demand in the manufacturing sector may be offset to some extent as a number of companies are switching their production lines to manufacture medical supplies.

Thanks to the dedication of our 700+ employees, we are continuing to operate in what has quickly become the “new normal”, and demonstrate what we at the IESO have always known – that ensuring the reliability of the province’s power system is something we never take for granted.

During this critical time, as always, we value your input and perspectives, and look forward to continuing to work with you on behalf of all Ontarians.

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