How Regional Electricity Planning Happens

The planning cycle begins in each of the province's 21 regions at least every five years.

The transmission company conducts a needs assessment to identify any electricity requirements in a local area. In some cases, the process stops here because there are no new identified needs.

If there are local needs identified, the IESO works with the transmitter and local distribution companies to conduct a scoping assessment to determine how these needs should be addressed, which includes recommending a study approach. Stakeholders and communities have an opportunity to review and provide comment on the scoping assessment report before it is finalized.

Once the Scoping Assessment Outcome Report is complete, the IESO could recommend three options:

  1. Local Plan - This is the choice when there is no requirement for provincial or regional coordination or involvement. It is a local issue that may include a smaller project or local solution.

  2. Integrated Regional Resource Plan (IRRP) - This is the next step if there is the potential to integrate lower cost solutions to meet many local needs versus addressing each need individually. It is also used to consider cost-effective solutions that could meet both a provincial and local need, as opposed to dealing with them separately. Engaging the local community to better understand future electricity demand or potential solutions to meet that demand is an important part of an IRRP.  These options can include:
  • conservation and demand management

  • distributed generation

  • large-scale generation

  • transmission

  • distribution

  • innovative solutions, such as distributed energy resources, which can include renewable generation, energy storage, combined heat and power, and microgrids

An IRRP considers options in terms of their feasibility, cost, reliability, government policy directives, environmental performance and community preferences.

While IRRPs are 20-year plans, they generally identify specific priorities and actions to meet any needs for the near term (<5 years) and medium term (5-10 years), as well as developing options which should be considered for the long term (10-20 years).

Community and stakeholder engagement continues throughout the IRRP phase.

  1. Regional Infrastructure Plan - If a wires-only, or a transmission-based approach, is identified as the best way to address planning needs, a Regional Infrastructure Plan (RIP) is undertaken.