IESO selects first commercial grid-balancing services


Toronto: The Independent Electricity System Operator took what it described as a major step forward December 20 to increase the participation of alternative technologies such as aggregated loads, flywheels and battery storage in the electricity market. It selected three non-traditional suppliers to provide frequency regulation service, a grid-balancing function normally provided by generators. This is a first for Ontario, the IESO said.

          Regulation is a contracted service that acts to match total generation on the system with total demand on a second-by-second basis. By helping to correct small, sudden changes in power system frequency, it balances power flows and maintains the reliability of the power system. This quick response is becoming increasingly important on the Ontario grid, to facilitate more renewable resources like wind and solar, whose output is variable in nature.

          "Real-time, real-world experience with new sources of regulation will allow us to see how non-traditional resources behave," said Paul Murphy, President and CEO of the IESO. "Engaging and empowering new participants will provide much needed flexibility in the way we run the power system, which is important in the context of our changing supply mix."

          Through a Request for Proposals issued earlier this year, the IESO sought to procure up to 10 megawatts of regulation from alternative sources such as dispatchable loads, aggregated demand response and storage technologies, including batteries and flywheels. To allow the IESO to acquire experience with a range of technologies, the RFP sought proposals from multiple vendors, each providing a small quantity of regulation.

          The IESO has now entered contract negotiations with the three successful proponents. This procurement process is part of the IESO's efforts to broaden access to Ontario's electricity markets. These resources have significantly different operating characteristics than conventional units, allowing them to contribute to Ontario's energy needs in different ways and complement the performance of existing generators. APPrO Executive Director Jake Brooks said, “This is a good example of how the market can be used to provide an increasingly wide range of services to the grid in a very efficient way.”

          The successful vendors include ENBALA Power Networks Inc., NRStor Incorporated and Renewable Energy Systems Canada Inc. (RES Canada). ENBALA Power Networks is a Canadian smart grid company that operates a network that relies on participating companies’ process flexibility to create demand-side storage. Toronto-based NRStor has partnered with flywheel developer Temporal Power and Ontario Power Generation to deliver two MW of regulation service to the IESO. Montreal-based Renewable Energy Systems Canada Inc. (RES Canada) offers a full suite of development and construction services for wind, solar, storage and transmission projects. RES Canada is currently building the 149.4 MW Halkirk Wind Project, the largest wind project ever constructed in Alberta, as well as the 345 km, 230 kilovolt (kV) Montana-Alberta Tie Line.


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