Process

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How the Innovation Sandbox Works

Much of the OEB Innovation Sandbox process, particularly in the early stages, is about information-sharing between proponents and OEB staff.

Features of the process:

The OEB Innovation Sandbox is open to both natural gas and electricity utilities as well as the broader energy technology and service sectors.

 
1. Email Innovation Sandbox with your idea and to request an initial meeting.
2. Sandbox staff will respond and schedule an initial meeting within 20 days.
3. Informal discussion held with Sandbox staff (Information Service).
4. If you have a specific pilot project for which you would like written guidance, you must submit a completed proposal. Download the Project Proposal Form
5. Submit your proposal.
6. Work with Sandbox staff to fill any gaps and answer questions regarding the proposal.
7. Once the final version of the proposal is received, Sandbox staff will provide a written response within 185 days.

 

Types of Support

Information Service

At any time, innovators may reach out to staff for an informal discussion about energy regulation and how it may apply to innovative products, services or business models, or with ideas about a specific pilot project. Innovators can discuss questions with OEB staff without the requirement to file any written material.

For innovators who request a meeting with OEB staff, a meeting will be held within 20 days of that request.

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Project-specific Support

For specific pilot projects, proponents will need to provide written information about the project. The more complete the information provided to OEB staff, the more efficient and timely the process.

  1. Initial meeting with OEB staff.
  2. Submit a completed OEB Innovation Sandbox: Project Proposal Form. Download the Project Proposal Form
  3. OEB staff will review the proposal, schedule follow-up meetings as needed to discuss questions or request additional information, evaluate whether the project meets the eligibility criteria (see below), discuss regulatory requirements that may be at issue and consider what supports can best move eligible projects forward.
  4. For innovators who have a pilot project they want to proceed with, the process will conclude within 185 days at the latest, although the OEB’s objective is to understand the proponent’s project timelines and to work within those where possible.

In some cases, proponents may be interested in seeking temporary relief from an OEB requirement that is a barrier to an innovative pilot project. In that case, OEB staff is available to help the proponent in pursuit of temporary relief.

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Eligibility Criteria

Innovators seeking project-specific support must ensure their project meets the following eligibility criteria:

  1. Support consumer value and protection.
  2. Maintain or enhance the resilience/reliability of the electricity or natural gas systems.
  3. Recognize carbon pricing and net zero mandates (e.g., facilitate sector decarbonization).
  4. Have the potential for scalability and economic viability.
  5. Identify an applicable regulatory barrier(s) relevant to the OEB (OEB staff may provide guidance related to relevant legislation and OEB requirements, such as codes, rules and OEB licences. The OEB may grant temporary exemptions from its own regulatory requirements, but typically cannot grant exemptions to requirements in legislation or regulations).

 

Transparency and Information Sharing

One of the objectives of the OEB Innovation Sandbox is to share innovative ideas and lessons learned with the energy sector. The approach to information sharing in the OEB Innovation Sandbox seeks to strike a balance between the need for transparency and the need to ensure that the OEB Innovation Sandbox is a "safe space" for innovators that facilitates open and frank conversations. As such, the approach to information sharing differs between the two types of OEB Innovation Sandbox support (Information Service and Project-specific Support).

Information Service

For innovators that seek Information Service support, engagements with OEB staff will remain confidential. OEB staff will not disclose information received except as may be required under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or otherwise by law.

Where a proponent begins with the Information Service, and later decides to seek Project-specific Support, please see the section below on Project-specific Support. Transparency and information sharing requirements associated with Project-specific Support only begin once a proponent has decided to seek that type of support and submits a written proposal.

Project-specific Support

The OEB Innovation Sandbox may share information on projects that receive Project-specific Support in one or more of the following ways:

OEB Innovation Sandbox Dashboard

All projects for which Project-specific Support is requested will be recorded on the OEB’s Innovation Sandbox dashboard, which shows the following anonymized information:

  • Description of the proponent (e.g., electricity distributor). The OEB Innovation Sandbox will not share the name of the proponent without the proponent’s consent.
  • Summary of innovative project: The OEB Innovation Sandbox project template Requires proponents to provide a project summary. The OEB will draw information from the project proposal to populate the dashboard. The OEB will not post the project proposal form itself.
  • The key theme or topic at issue (e.g., net metering).
  • Sandbox support requested. This may include a request for customized OEB staff guidance or staff’s assistance in requesting temporary relief from a regulatory requirement.
  • Sandbox support provided.

Staff Bulletins

Where guidance provided through the OEB Innovation Sandbox relates to a matter that is of broader interest to regulated entities or other stakeholders – such as guidance relating to the meaning or application of a regulatory requirement – that guidance may be shared more broadly through a staff Bulletin. The name of the proponent will not be shared.

Annual Reports and other Reporting

The OEB Innovation Sandbox has updated its approach to annual reporting. Annual reports will now include references to specific innovative pilot projects. The information shared in annual reports will be similar in nature to the anonymized information shared on the dashboard.

Confidentiality

The OEB is aware that proponents may wish to keep some commercially sensitive information confidential. Proponents are expected to identify commercially sensitive information in the project template. The OEB will not share any information that is commercially sensitive.

 

 

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