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Canadian Led Consortium Enabling Electricity Distribution of the Future

The Transformative Utility is Responsive, Efficient, Digital, Clean
(Tecumseh, Ontario):  A consortium of Canadian energy organizations has been shortlisted to develop the electricity distribution system of the future as part of Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Power Forward Challenge.   The intent of the challenge is for Canada and the United Kingdom to collaborate and explore cutting edge smart grid technologies to help power the grid and revolutionize the way we access clean, flexible, and reliable energy.
The Transformative Utility delivers on the promise of the new world of clean electricity generation and usage by developing an integrated, responsive, efficient end to end digital electricity distribution system,” announced John Avdoulos, President of Utilismart Corporation of London, Ontario.
The consortium is a collaboration and partnership among entities in Canada and the United Kingdom led by Utilismart and includes Essex Powerlines Corporation, Oakville Hydro Electricity Distribution Inc., Planview Utility Services Limited from Canada and First Derivatives Plc and Digital Engineering Ltd. from the UK, among others.  Building on each organization’s strengths, the Consortium is developing an end to end system that bridges the gaps between grid operations, engineering planning, and in-field asset management, enabling the integration of smaller renewable generators and users, while maximizing customer value.
“Simply put, the project will develop technologies that will enable utilities to serve customers of all sizes with unprecedented efficiency in an age of digital transformation and changing electricity needs,” explains Scott Mudie, COO of Oakville Hydro.  “To remain competitive and essential, utilities across the world need to transform from traditional poles-and-wires companies into Distribution System Operators, by turning data into decisions.”
The Transformative Utility will enable utilities to become Distribution System Operators and digitally transform data into decision making.  The model leverages existing investments in metering technology and control center operations, and merges data onto a common platform for enhanced decision making. Through the development of innovative technologies, asset related business processes will be optimized, creating visibility and flexibility in the grid.
“Adopting this technology will provide unprecedented transparency and value to regulators, market operators, distribution system operators, and customers throughout Canada, and globally,” adds Mr. Avdoulos.  “The ability of the Transformative Utility to connect and communicate with different systems, devices, and applications, will allow the UK market to easily adapt the technology for its grid operations.”
With combined analysis, utilities will be provided better visibility into the health and operational performance of their transformers, breakers, and switches, steering them away from traditional fixed interval maintenance programs.  With grid intelligence insights available at their fingertips, operational dispatch and control will improve.  Sophisticated weather data, forecasting of generation and customer loads, DER signaling, and market data at the operational level, will give utilities the ability to reconfigure the grid and maximize market and customer value.
“Generation, distribution, maintenance and customer value will be integrated in a safe reliable network promoting sustainability of the electricity system and our planet, by identifying and connecting the vast and disparate renewable generators and users,” says Joe Barile, General Manager of Essex Powerlines.
The Power Forward Challenge was developed by Natural Resources Canada and the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy as one of five cleantech challenges stemming from the Impact Canada Initiative through the Government of Canada.  NRCan will formally announce the list of Power Forward Challenge semi-finalists next week in Vancouver.  The semi-finalists will compete in a Pitch Event and the winning proposal will be announced in June.  The winners will then compete for one-of-three $3-million grants to be used to conduct a pilot-scale demonstration of their smart grid solutions.  The final award winner will be announced March 2021, acquiring an additional $1-million prize.
“We are thrilled to be shortlisted for this innovative and truly important project put forward by NRCan,” says Mr. Avdoulos.  “It’s an excellent way to spur the necessary planning for a rapidly evolving sector.”
Utilismart Corporation is a leader in utility digitalization, transformation and advanced grid analytics, providing its innovative solutions to utility customers in North America since 2002. Data-driven solutions unlock the Corporation’s transformative capability to meet today’s challenges including the evolution of the distribution grid to enable the utility’s transformation from a traditional poles-and-wires company to an Energy Management Services Company.
Planview Utility Services Limited provides professional services to Utilities and Municipalities throughout Ontario and North America. Planview is registered with the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO), and provides Engineering Services, GIS and Mapping Services, and Sub-Surface Utility Engineering to infrastructure owners.
Oakville Hydro delivers reliable and safe electricity to more than 70,000 individuals, families and businesses in Oakville. The company maintains an active commitment to conservation, safety, and is strongly invested in the social and economic well-being of the Oakville community.  Oakville Hydro is a two-time past recipient of the Local Distribution Company Performance Excellence Award from the Electricity Distributors Association and a Canada’s Safest Employers Silver Award recipient, recognizing the organization as an exceptional leader in the industry.
Essex Powerlines Corporation is a regulated company that provides safe, reliable, and economical electrical distribution and service to 30,000 customers within four municipalities of Essex County. EPLC’s corporate vision is to provide the communities of Amherstburg, LaSalle, Leamington, and Tecumseh with safe, reliable, and economical energy supply and service. The foundation to empower their vision is based on a dynamic and progressive workforce that will be industry leaders in providing ‘best of class’ business solutions in the delivery of service to their customers.
Natural Resources Canada seeks to enhance the responsible development and use of Canada’s natural resources and the competitiveness of Canada’s natural resources products. We are an established leader in science and technology in the fields of energy, forests, and minerals and metals and use our expertise in earth sciences to build and maintain an up-to-date knowledge base of our landmass.
The Impact Canada Initiative platform is part of a Government of Canada-wide effort that will help departments accelerate the adoption of innovative funding approaches to deliver meaningful results to Canadians. The Impact Canada Initiative is led by a Center of Expertise housed within the Impact and Innovation Unity of the Privy Council Office. Natural Resources Canada, a partner in this initiative, plans to invest $75 million over four years in five challenges: Women in Cleantech Challenge, Power Forward Challenge, Crush It! Challenge, The Sky’s the Limit Challenge, and Indigenous Off-diesel Initiative Challenge.