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Green Button energy management to become mandatory for most Ontario energy utilities

November 23, 2021  By  Anthony Capkun

November 23, 2021 – Ontario has announced it will require “nearly all” regulated electricity and natural gas utilities in the province to provide Green Button to their customers within 24 months—the first province in Canada to do so, says a Ministry of Energy spokesperson.

“Green Button is part of our commitment to give consumers more choice when it comes to their energy use, and will enable easy and quick access to their consumption data through smartphone or computer apps so they can find customized tips to reduce energy use or switch electricity price plans to save money,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy.

Most Ontario natural gas and electricity utilities are now required to implement the Green Button standard for their customers by November 1, 2023, explains the Ministry of Energy spokesperson, adding that certain utilities have been exempted “because they do not have the necessary smart metering infrastructure and/or do not have the technical capability that is required to implement Green Button”.

(These exemptions cover fewer than 1% of Ontario customers, continues the spokesperson. A list of the utilities that are exempted can be found in the definition of “energy provider” in Ontario Regulation 633/21: Energy Data.)

Green Button lets customers download their natural gas and hourly electricity data in a standardized format from their utility, and authorize the secure transfer of this data to applications of their choice.

“In California, where utilities have been required to implement Green Button for a number of years, customers have access to over 100 applications that have been specifically designed to meet individual customer needs,” says the ministry spokesperson.

This announcement builds on progress made by London Hydro and Festival Hydro, says the province, which voluntarily offer Green Button to their customers.

“The Green Button standard ushers utilities into the modern technology era of open utilities, increased customer choice, and uniform energy management services for the benefit of customers,” said Vinay Sharma, CEO of London Hydro. “Indeed, Green Button will manifest the true benefits of smart meter systems for customers.”

London Hydro customers have a range of available applications that are tailored to their individual needs, says the ministry spokesperson, citing examples such as:

• Bidgely HomeBeat is an energy savings analysis app designed for residential users. London Hydro reports customers who have used Bidgely achieved 2% energy savings within the first three months.

• The Solar Data Pros app allows the utility’s customers to monitor their solar energy generation, as well as the amount of energy they are drawing from the grid.

• Business customers in London have access to Commerce, an app that helps them track, report and manage energy use through an online platform and take advantage of ways to potentially reduce electricity costs.

“Festival Hydro has been collaborating with London Hydro to enhance their online customer engagement solutions since 2017,” said Jeff Graham, CEO of Festival Hydro. “By working together, we have recognized cost efficiencies while providing our customers more online service options… with more to come in the future.”

According to the province, studies have found that easy access to energy data—which Green Button and smart home devices can provide—helps consumers make informed decisions and achieve energy savings of up to 18%.*

“Actual savings would be dependent on the level of customer participation and their individual consumption patterns/volumes, rate plan and building characteristics,” notes the spokesperson. “While customers would be able to reduce their costs by using Green Button applications to inform behavioural changes, or the investment in energy-efficiency retrofits without the presence of smart home devices, these devices would help maximize possible savings.”

“As more utilities in Ontario implement Green Button, it is expected that even more applications will be developed to serve all types of customers, including residential, commercial and industrial energy users,” adds the Ministry of Energy spokesperson.

* A report entitled Got data? the value of energy data access to consumers (PDF) analyzes the possible savings that could be achieved through Green Button, says the ministry spokesperson. According to the report, easy access to energy data (i.e. Green Button, along with smart home devices), can help consumers make informed decisions and achieve those energy savings.

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