REPORTING [2]

This marks the second report on Sandbox activity. It provides a summary for the 12 months ending June 2020.

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On January 16, 2019, the Ontario Energy Board launched the OEB Innovation Sandbox (the Sandbox) to provide a streamlined, accessible way to support companies interested in testing new ideas, products, services and business models that have the potential to provide value to electricity and natural gas consumers.

What happened in 2019/2020

  • Thirteen proponents approached the Sandbox between July 2019 and end of June 2020. Proponents included a mix of non-utility businesses as well as electricity distributors.
  • Proponents came forward with a wide range of issues and questions relating to the regulatory treatment of new products, services and ideas for business models in Ontario.
  • Most proponents that approached the Sandbox were interested in information and guidance related to regulatory considerations associated with their ideas.
  • Three proponents submitted written proposals during the reporting period. One of these written proposals resulted in the provision of written guidance by OEB staff to a rate-regulated electricity distributor and the issuance of a related Bulletin (see below). Consideration of the other two written proposals is in the information-gathering stage.
13
Sandbox inquiries
13
meetings with proponents, all held within 20 days or on a date requested by the proponent
10/13
meetings where proponents sought information and guidance
3
written proposals
1
letter of guidance provided in response to a written proposal

Customized Guidance
and OEB Staff Bulletin

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  • The Sandbox received a proposal from a rate-regulated electricity distributor regarding the ownership and operation of behind-the-meter storage assets for the purpose of remediating long-term reliability problems experienced by customers who face long duration outages with relative frequency.
  • OEB staff provided guidance to the proponent in relation to its Sandbox proposal. In a Staff Bulletin issued August 6, 2020, staff shared its interpretation of the relevant legislation, as well as the policy considerations and rationale underlying that guidance, for the assistance of all stakeholders.

Key themes and lessons learned:

  • Open, frank conversations with OEB staff continue to be the most popular way to engage the Sandbox. As was the case in the first six months of operation of the Sandbox, proponents who approached the Sandbox in this reporting period sought information and guidance.
  • While there was limited activity from regulated entities in the first six months of operation of the Sandbox, in this reporting period a number of regulated entities came forward with requests for Sandbox support.
  • Themes for enquiry included:

    • licensing and OEB Code requirements for various activities
    • questions related to distributed energy resources and what services and activities are within the purview of a licensed distributor to provide
    • customer billing
  • As in the first six months of operation of the Sandbox, a number of proponents expressed interest in virtual net metering.
  • Some proponents approached the Sandbox requesting endorsement of a specific technology or company. The Sandbox cannot provide endorsement of a technology or company, nor is the Sandbox a forum for providing business development support for a new product.
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