Proposed Changes to Distribution System Code

The Ontario Energy Board has made a recent decision that is very progressive, and will allow slightly greater utilization of our existing grid infrastructure.  The changes are very important for some smaller proposed project, but are limited in overall impact.  The Board is even changing the wording that they proposed for definitions of technologies.  The new wording isn’t as funny as the old, but it sure makes more sense.

In the past, projects <10 kW in size were allowed an expedited, and substantially cost reduced, connecting process.  10 kW would cover most rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV), many of the small wind turbines.  It would not cover any biogas projects, or medium sized wind or PV.  And it was an ultra conservative approach, that ensured only most economically challenged small projects had this process.  The Board proposal that was circulated was  to increase the limit to 250 kW projects, for everything but wind. 


But in their ruling, they went beyond what was proposed.  They are now going to allow expedited lower cost connection for all projects < 250kW, and for projects connecting to voltages above 15KV, the limit is raised to 500 kW. 


Not only will small projects in these categories face lower costs, and shorter timelines, but perhaps just as importantly, they will not have to be in the queue, which is blocking many projects from proceeding.  If a local utility allows a project to go ahead, and it subsequently causes problems for someone in the queue that was ahead of them, the utility is to notify the Board, and presumably they would then come up with a fair resolution to the problem.  It will also let the Board know the significance of the this change in causing real problems with the queue. 


The Board described this change as in keeping with government policy.  Good for them.  It means that government policy is to encourage renewable energy projects, including small ones.  And it may mean that government policy is to utilize our existing grid for renewable energy project, rather than just let it be tied up with proposed projects, queues, and arbitrary limits, as is the case for much of the province today.


Good for the Board.  It is a small step.  I think it will allow a few pioneers to proceed.  It will give a bit of a boost to on farm biogas, a few larger PV or wind projects.  And it sets a precedent that the grid is meant to be used, not just reserved.

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