Ontario’s electricity system operator is planning to roll out a program by which customers with smart thermostats would receives a commission to have their air-con remotely reduced on hot summer days.
Energy Minister Todd Smith had asked the Independent Electricity System Operator to suggest recent conservation initiatives, because the province seeks to administer rising demand from electrification.
He announced Tuesday that he accepted its recommendations and can roll out recent and expanded programs starting next 12 months, with a value of $342 million.
Considered one of the programs will let households with central air-con and a sensible thermostat volunteer to permit the IESO to reduce their cooling load to be able to reduce peak demand on certain summer days, and receives a commission an as-yet unspecified incentive.
The programs announced Tuesday can have a big profit for all ratepayers by 2025, Smith said.
“This expansion will help deliver enough annual electricity savings to power about 130,000 homes every 12 months, and reduce costs for consumers by over $650 million,” he said at a news conference.
“It’s a win for patrons, it’s a win for climate and a win for Ontario.”
The federal government said that over a lifespan of as much as 20 years, the programs will lead to three million tonnes of greenhouse gas emission reductions.
The programs also include support for greenhouses in southwest Ontario — corresponding to incentives to put in LED lighting or resources corresponding to solar generation or battery storage — in addition to enhancements to the Save On Energy Retrofit Program for businesses, institutions and municipalities.
“Whether it’s funding for municipalities to upgrade the chillers at their local rinks or arenas, funding for a hospital to make HVAC or air handling system upgrades or funding for an area business for constructing upgrades like recent insulation or higher windows and doors,” Smith said.
“All these upgrades wouldn’t only reduce demand on the provincial grid, but in addition reduce energy use and operational costs.”
The IESO has been planning recent conservation initiatives in addition to seeking to procure recent electricity generation while it looked to fill an upcoming electricity supply gap, with Pickering Nuclear Generating Station set to shut down and demand rising.
But Smith said last week that the province plans to run Pickering for an additional 12 months, to 2026, and possibly refurbish it to operate for an additional 30 years as “unprecedented growth” in areas corresponding to electric vehicle manufacturing means demand could increase much more quickly than previously anticipated.
The IESO says conservation is an economical and environmentally friendly method to mitigate demand.
Critics of the Progressive Conservative government say the province wouldn’t be in as much of a supply crunch now if it hadn’t cancelled 750 green energy contracts during Premier Doug Ford’s first term.