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The Evolution of Canadian Electricity brings Opportunity and Complexity


A review of the Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) recent announcements and initiatives, along with their broad implications, highlights evolving opportunities across the Ontario landscape. These initiatives are also indicative of the vast complexity for stakeholders, from policy makers to developers to technology companies throughout the renewable energy value chain. A few program developments show both robustness in the market and a change in direction.

As of September 30, 2013, the OPA had 10,560 MW of renewable energy supply contracted in Ontario, with 52% of it under development and 48% in commercial operation. While projects under development represent about $20B in investment, much of it targeted for spending over the next several years, incremental contracted capacity in the 18 months prior to the Q3 report was reported to be only 154 MW. This indicates significant market activity while also highlighting the need for next generation policy and program development.

The OPA’s new and evolving competitive process to procure large renewable (>500kW) contracts proposes to enhance regional planning, Aboriginal incentives, community engagement / acceptance and municipal site and land use control. A requirement for more engagement and inclusiveness embedded in the competitive process will trigger innovation and responsiveness from renewable project developers.

The good news is that Aboriginal and municipal / community groups are increasingly participating in renewable generation; the OPA has contracted inclusive developments of 1,910 MW with a portfolio value of about $12B. Participation levels will naturally and rightfully increase with time.

Another change in direction is the recent announcement of a joint, two-phase procurement process for 50MW of energy storage with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). This procurement will spur the advancement of battery, flywheel and other storage technology innovation in Canada.

In addition, on March 31, 2014, the Ministry of Energy also issued a directive to support achievement of the provincial conservation and demand management (CDM) goal to save 30 TWh of energy by 2032. The Ministry forecasts that 7 TWh needs to be achieved between 2015 and 2020, and has requested the OPA coordinate, support and fund the delivery of CDM programs through distributors to achieve this 2020 target reduction.

While there are significant opportunities for sustainable investments and businesses, new procurement processes and increased expectations for partnerships and community engagement will add to the complexity of operating in the Ontario market. Ontario has forged a path, and the lessons learned while navigating complexities will provide strong insights for other Canadian jurisdictions as they continue development of renewable energy markets.

MNP is pleased to be a founding sponsor for the inaugural All-Energy Canada Exhibition and Conference at the Exhibition Place in Toronto, April 9-10, 2014. Visit MNP’s Power Lounge at Booth 415 to learn more about how we can help put the power back in your hands. The tradeshow portion of this event is free to attend. For a listing of our presentations please visit