On January 25, 2016, the Ontario Energy Board issued a Decision in response to the request from the
"Smart Metering Entity" (SME) for a five-year licence
extension. The OEB only extended the licence for one year, and set
out requirements for the SME to achieve in its next application,
including the collection of a broader range of electricity consumer
consumption data and a means for the public to have greater access
to this data.
The SME, which is part of the Independent Electricity System
Operator (IESO), was created almost 10 years ago under requirements
set out in the Electricity Act, 1998. The SME's
statutory objectives (as set out in s. 53.8 of the Electricity
Act) include the collection and management of information and
data related to the metering of consumers' consumption or use
of electricity in Ontario, and the provision and promotion of
appropriate non-discriminatory access to that information and data
by distributors, retailers, the IESO and other persons.
While the OEB's Decision compliments the IESO for many
accomplishments and successes in the creation and operation of the
SME, it notes that there is more to be done. Specifically, the OEB
indicates that the SME can do more "to achieve the value
inherent in a single provincial repository of electricity
consumption data from over 4 million smart meters." In the
OEB's view, "a province-wide database of customer
consumption data would support many activities at the provincial or
regional level including, among others: the design of conservation
and demand management programs, the assessment of the effectiveness
of time of use pricing, the design of distribution rates and time
of use prices, and the regional planning of transmission and
distribution systems." The OEB also indicates that "there
are potentially much greater benefits to consumers from this
consumption data, in particular by making non-personal information
available to third parties to assist them in developing new
innovative products and services that will enhance customer choice
The OEB's Decision acknowledges that the IESO has
attempted to address concerns about the scope of and access to
smart meter data in 2015 through the development of the
"Foundation Project," which issued its Final Report in November 2015. The Foundation
Project Final Report made recommendations relating to information
that is to be provided, and a framework for third party access to
"suitably depersonalized" data. The Final Report did not,
however, include an implementation plan citing concerns around
privacy and costs.
The OEB's Decision indicates that the OEB is concerned
that benefits from smart metering are not being fully leveraged.
More information about the customers whose consumption data is
being collected is needed. This information needs to be more
broadly available. To ensure these outcomes, the OEB's Decision only extends the SME's licence
for one year, and requires that the SME prepares an implementation
plan for third party access to SME data to be included in its next
licence renewal application. The OEB also requires that, starting
in January 2017, the SME must collect more information associated
with each meter, including the postal code (location) and rate
class. Finally, the OEB indicates that it will be launching a
policy review shortly to determine the best regulatory mechanisms,
such as the amendment of the SME licence and corresponding
amendments to distributor licences, to ensure that the SME has
adequate information to carry out its mandate.
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Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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