Electricity and gas distributors in Ontario must be ready to provide customers with their energy-use data by November 2023, according to a newly filed regulation setting out the rules for the province-wide rollout of the Green Button program. That will ensure the vast majority of electricity and natural gas account holders can get access to, at minimum, hourly consumption data for a period of up to 24-months.
The regulation, which officially comes into force on Nov. 1 this year, instructs designated electricity and gas utilities to comply with the North American standards for the program, which were developed jointly by the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) and the non-governmental organization, Green Button Alliance. The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) is currently conducting a consultation on Green Button implementation and will be providing further guidance.
Green Button was launched in 2011 when the United States Whitehouse policy office challenged that country’s utilities to come up with a web-based tool through which consumers could find their energy-use data. It’s estimated that about 60 million U.S. households now have access to their data via Green Button, as do approximately three million Canadian customers of utilities that have voluntarily adopted the program.
Under Ontario’s new rules, account holders will be able to directly request their energy-use information or authorize other parties to do so on their behalf. Energy providers will be expected to establish policies and procedures for access, authorization of third parties and protection of privacy, and to comply with other requirements the OEB may impose.
A handful of electricity utilities, mostly in northern Ontario, are exempted from the requirements. The regulation also provides for potential extensions to the November 2023 deadline for compliance “on the basis of technical or operational reasons that cannot be addressed at a reasonable cost” or if utilities face undue delays related to NAESB scheduling.
The previous Ontario government initially adopted the enabling legislation for the Green Button mandate as part of the former Green Energy Act. The current government transferred the section to the Electricity Act when it invoked the Green Energy Repeal Act in 2018.