Facilitating cost-effective innovation that provides value to consumers

The OEB Innovation Sandbox supports pilot projects testing new activities, services and business models in Ontario’s electricity and natural gas sectors. As the first regulatory sandbox in Canada’s energy sector, it has provided information and guidance to dozens of proponents since its launch in 2019.


October 13, 2022 - The OEB is holding an Innovation Sandbox Challenge, a one-time funding opportunity of $1.5 million to support innovative projects in the energy sector and provide Innovation Sandbox guidance.

OEB Innovation Sandbox Challenge chevron_right

The OEB Innovation Sandbox is led by OEB staff and provides two services:

Information Service:

For innovators with questions about an idea or concept, the Information Service is an informal way to speak with OEB staff about the OEB's regulatory framework and how it applies to your idea or concept.

Project-specific Support:

For those with a proposed pilot project, OEB staff can provide written guidance specifically tailored to your project. Staff can also help with requesting temporary relief* from a regulatory barrier. Staff will provide their support to pilot projects that show clear potential to benefit Ontario’s energy consumers.

* Keep in mind that that the OEB may provide temporary exemptions from its own regulatory requirements such as OEB codes, rules and licences (e.g., Distribution System Code, Retail Settlement Code) but are unable to provide exemptions that are found in statutes and regulations (e.g., Electricity Act, 1998, Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998).

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Dashboard

The "as-it-happens" dashboard provides insights into projects that have received Sandbox support.

Key Measures


 

Types of support requested
Met with proponent within 20 days 100%
of the time groups
Written support provided to proponent within 185 days 100%
of the time task

 

Breakdown of themes


* "Distributed Energy Resources" category includes EVs

List of Proposals


 

The list of proposals below provide detail into the Sandbox support request and support provided to proponents that sought Project-specific Support in 2021.

Peak Power in partnership with Oshawa Power
Proposal Received: November 30, 2021
Subject Matter: DERs, local energy market, DSO model, DERMS
Status of Request: Complete

View Details
Summary:

This project was selected as part of the IESO-OEB’s Joint Targeted Call on DER Integration.

The project will demonstrate how distributed energy resources management software (DERMS) can assist with aggregating behind-the-meter (BTM) DERs to provide distribution-level and transmission-level services. Ontario Tech University, the host site, will also use the DERMS to determine how it can optimize the services provided by its own BTM DERs. The project expects to assess the value that different types of DERs can provide at the distribution and bulk levels.

Support Sought:

Guidance on whether the activities of Oshawa Power, which are primarily research activities related to DERs, are permissible under section 71 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998.

Support Provided:

Staff provided its view that the proposed activities are permissible under s.71(1) of the OEB Act as distributors may engage in research to explore innovative opportunities to meet distribution system needs.

Toronto Hydro
Proposal Received: November 30, 2021
Subject Matter: DERs, Demand Response, DER Aggregation
Status of Request: Complete

View Details
Summary:

This project was selected as part of the IESO-OEB's Joint Targeted Call on DER Integration.

Toronto Hydro will aggregate local, behind-the-meter (BTM) demand response (DR) resources (that are currently participating in Toronto Hydro's Local DR program) to simulate participation in IESO's Capacity Auction, and subsequently simulate managing this capacity in the real-time energy markets. The project expects provide insights into the potential benefits of creating a new market participation pathway that enables the same DER to provide services to the bulk system as well as the distribution system.

Support Sought:

Guidance on whether the activities of Toronto Hydro are permissible under section 71 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998. These activities are primarily related to using DR capacity from their Local DR program to simulate participation in IESO-administered markets.

Support Provided:

Staff provided its view that the proposed activities, which build on Toronto Hydro's existing ratepayer-funded Local Demand Response program, are permissible under s. 71(1) of the OEB Act as they are aligned with the OEB's Conservation and Demand Management Guidelines.

Enel X Canada Ltd.
Proposal Received: November 30, 2021
Subject Matter: DERs, DER Aggregation
Status of Request: Complete

View Details
Summary:

This project was selected as part of the IESO-OEB's Joint Targeted Call on DER Integration.

The project will simulate the aggregation of heterogenous behind-the-meter (BTM) distributed energy resources (DERs) to test how these resources could provide distribution level services and participate in IESO-administered markets. Stated benefits of this simulation project include understanding what potential economic value is associated with the use of DERs, as well as determining how existing DERs that are not fully utilized could be used to the benefit of the distribution and bulk systems. This project is intended to demonstrate the technical capabilities of DERs in providing wholesale services in a streamlined way that maximizes DER value. This participation will be simulated in the pilot outside of the actual IESO-administered market environment.

Support Sought:

OEB staff's view on whether Enel X requires a wholesaler licence to participate in this simulation of IESO market participation.

Support Provided:

Staff provided its view that a licence is not required for simulated activities.

BluWave-ai in partnership with Hydro Ottawa
Proposal Received: November 30, 2021
Subject Matter: DERs, EVs, DER Aggregation, Demand Response
Status of Request: Complete

View Details
Summary:

This project was selected as part of the IESO-OEB's Joint Targeted Call on DER Integration.

The project will test two types of non-wires alternative solutions to mitigate capacity limitations associated with EV charging: 1) Remote load management by Hydro Ottawa of customers' behind-the-meter (BTM) EV chargers, and 2) Front-of-the-meter (FTM) batteries. This project will also test the capabilities of distributed energy resources (DERs) aggregations to provide bulk-level services. The project expects to reduce peak demand and may defer the need for infrastructure builds.

Support Sought:

Guidance on whether the project activities to be undertaken by Hydro Ottawa are permissible under section 71 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998. These activities are primarily related to curtailing BTM EV chargers, installing a FTM battery, and using these resources to simulate participation in IESO-administered markets.

Support Provided:

Staff provided its view that the proposed activities are permissible under s. 71(1) of the OEB Act as their main purpose is to meet distribution system needs and they are aligned with the OEB's Conservation and Demand Management Guidelines.

Essex Powerlines Corporation
Proposal Received: November 30, 2021
Subject Matter: DERs, DSO
Status of Request: Complete

View Details
Summary:

This project was selected as part of the IESO-OEB's Joint Targeted Call on DER Integration.

Essex Powerlines and NODES will set up and operate a live, local (distribution-level) market for distributed energy resource (DER) services with Essex Powerlines acting as a Distribution System Operator (DSO). The project will demonstrate the use of DERs participating in the local market and explore how those same resources can also provide bulk level services. Stated benefits of the project include demonstrating the ability of a utility to act as a DSO, testing whether DERs can provide services to both distribution and bulk systems and testing distribution level/IESO co-ordination.

Support Sought:

Guidance on whether the activities of Essex Powerlines, which are primarily related to it acting as a DSO, are permissible under section 71 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998.

Support Provided:

Staff provided its view that the proposed activities are permissible under s. 71(1)of the OEB Act as the main purpose for the local DER market is to meet distribution system needs and they align with the OEB's Conservation and Demand Management Guidelines.

EPCOR Electricity Distribution Ontario Inc.
Proposal Received: September 03, 2021
Subject Matter: Electric Vehicles
Status of Request: Complete

View Details
Summary:

As part of Natural Resources Canada's Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program, EPCOR would receive grant funding to allow them to act as a "Delivery Organization," making EPCOR responsible for distributing funding to eligible applicants to install EV chargers. The project expects the increased availability of EV chargers to support increased EV adoption.

Support Sought:

Customized guidance related to whether project activities are permissible under section 71 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998.

Support Provided:

Staff described its view that acting as a Delivery Organization is permitted under section 5(3)(c) of Ontario Regulation 161/99 of the OEB Act.

 

Archived Reports
Older Innovation Sandbox reports are available here: Report 1 - First 6 Months, Report 2 - 2019-2020

OEB-IESO Partnership

On June 22, 2021, the OEB and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) announced a partnership between the IESO's Grid Innovation Fund and the OEB Innovation Sandbox to support pilot projects seeking to test how to derive value from distributed energy resources. The successful projects were announced on March 30, 2022, April 14, 2022 and April 22, 2022.

Seven projects, five of which received support from the Innovation Sandbox, represent a total investment of $56.4 million and will accelerate the adoption of local energy projects to help communities play an increasing role in providing for their own energy needs.

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