“I didn’t realize that Hydro Ottawa was investigating such advanced smart grid technologies.”

These comments reflect the buzz created by The Grid Edge Active Transactional Demand Response (The GREAT-DR) trial, a Hydro Ottawa-led project featured at DistribuTECH, a world premier networking opportunity for utilities and utility product and service providers held in San Antonio, Texas in January.

“We are delighted that delegates at DistribuTECH share our enthusiasm for The GREAT DR and want to learn more about our trial,” says Raed Abdullah, The GREAT-DR Initiator and Project Lead. “We are excited about the potential of this inter-operable open source platform for shaping future smart grid technologies. Since it is standard-based (mainly IEEE 2030.5), it will ignite and sustain innovation. That is a win-win-win for our industry, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and our customers.

Through this project, Hydro Ottawa and its collaborators are building a trial environment that simulates the future marketplace for energy— one in which customers will generate more of their own power, store what is not used, and drive electric vehicles (EVs). With an initial investment of $27,000 or less, the 30 qualified participants in The GREAT-DR trial will gain a state-of-the-art solar generation system and control devices worth approximately $40,000. This integrated system includes roof top solar panels, a home energy management system (HEMS), a smart inverter, battery storage, a bi-directional meter, and a critical load panel for emergency power.

The GREAT-DR system leverages transactive energy, a technology that enables devices that use or produce electricity to work together seamlessly, thereby maintaining a balance between supply and demand, or within the physical constraints of the distribution system. Fundamentally, it decentralizes and largely automates demand response and transactive energy right through to the grid’s edge.

With this system, participants can not only reduce their electricity usage and demand, but also gain more control and flexibility over the management of their energy. When the price of electricity is high or at peak demand, customers can decide how to use their energy. To charge their EV right away, for instance, the customer can have the system turn off, defer or reduce the use of other large appliances such as dryers, pool pumps and air conditioners, or perhaps generate electricity or rely on energy storage.

The GREAT-DR trial will also evaluate the effectiveness of a transformer agent or transactive agent, a device that sits on Hydro Ottawa’s distribution transformer and enables transactions between customers. Again, if a customer needs to charge their EV, this agent will determine the current transformer load. If capacity is not available immediately, the system will provide other options. For example, the agent could signal other homes served by the transformer to see if they have the solar generation or storage capacity to charge their neighbour’s EV. Or the agent could request that other homes reduce their load to accommodate the EV’s charging.

In addition to giving customers unprecedented control over their electricity, The GREAT-DR offers new benefits to players in the electricity business. It will guarantee better demand response for electricity grid market operators, like the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). Local distribution companies (LDCs), including Hydro Ottawa, will gain more flexibility in operating, controlling and optimizing use of the grid, especially when demand fluctuates. This system is more cost-effective yet more resilient than traditional grid solutions. In addition, it is fully compliant with open standards and adheres to Privacy by Design principles and best cyber security practices.

Already 10 Hydro Ottawa customers have qualified to participate in the trial project, and dozens of other customers have applied. Once the selection of qualified participants is completed, installation of the new grid solution within customer homes will begin, and the trial will be underway by Spring 2018. The aggregated data collected by Hydro Ottawa over the two-year trial period will forever change how customers, LDCs and the IESO interact with and manage the smart grid.

“The GREAT-DR is a game changer,” says Bryce Conrad, President and CEO of Hydro Ottawa. “We know that many players in the energy industry will be watching our progress.”

The GREAT-DR is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Energy’s Smart Grid Fund, the LDC Tomorrow Fund, and Hydro Ottawa’s dedicated project collaborators, including Carleton University, CIMA Canada Inc., Energate (Tantalus) Inc., Panasonic Eco Solutions Canada (with Tabuchi Americas), Quadra Power Inc., Thorium Technologies Inc., and the University of Ottawa. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Standards Association supports The GREAT DR project as well.

For more information visit hydroottawa.com/great-dr.