Towards Decentralized Power Systems: Market & Regulatory Frameworks for Ontario
This MRP is about the sustainability transition of Ontario’s electricity system. A sustainability transition is understood as a type of purposive socio-technical transition, which is meant to address some normative goal rather than to exploit commercial opportunity. I use the analytical framework presented by the socio-technical transitions literature and multi-level perspective theory to assess the state of Ontario’s grid modernization as evidenced through primarily documentary evidence, most notably the 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan. I conclude that based on this evidence, Ontario is taking a transformation pathway, which is characterized as being driven from within the established regime that modifies its own trajectory in response to landscape pressures and an under-developed niche. This is represented by Ontario’s preferred approach to enable LDCs as the primary developers of DERs through regulatory changes. I then argue that in light of sustainability objectives that I identify in this paper, Ontario’s approach has some shortfalls, and instead I recommend a reconfiguration pathway that requires the strategic modification of 3 key areas to enable a competitive retail DERs market. The three key areas are: (1) adjustments to the grid architecture to address the operational and functional roles of grid actors; (2) establishment of a market structure known as a platform to enable the participation of distributed resources to compete with traditional resources on a level playing, which can be done either at the bulk or distribution levels; and (3) the regulation of a competitive retail DERs market in Ontario.