The government of Ontario has completed a $1 billion rollout of 4.7 million smart meters, but what does this mean to the innovation sector?

According to the Independent Electricity System Operator, once all the smart meters in Ontario have been enrolled in the Meter Data Management and Repository (as of September 28, 2012, there were 4,492,097 smart meters enrolled), it will be able to process approximately 110 million meter reads per day. To put this in perspective, this exceeds the number of debit card transactions processed in the country per day.

To understand how we can capitalize on this, we first need to sit back and realize a few things:

  1. This is a once-in-a-generation business opportunity (generation Z, to be exact).
  2. This is the first time you will see consumers, utilities and innovators/third-party solutions collaborating together on a double bottom line objective: keeping electricity bills low while preserving the planet. Doesn’t that sound beautiful?!
  3. Smart meters and the subsequent transformation to a smart-grid infrastructure will change the ways in which energy is transmitted, distributed and consumed. (By the way, you should know by now that smart meters are not the same as a smart grid.)

OK, let’s move on from the big picture to the actual opportunities.

“The Market Impact of Accessible Energy Data,” a collaborative white paper by the Clean Energy Institute, MaRS Data Catalyst and MaRS Market Intelligence, addresses the opportunities to create wider economic and social value from those millions of pieces of data and to become leaders in data management infrastructure. The paper divides the market opportunity into the following business segments:

  • customer and small business applications
  • building management and retrofit
  • district energy and storage
  • commercial software (utilities)
  • data in community projects

But data (including electricity consumption data) cannot just simply be shared and used to create new solutions without having appropriate standards and mechanisms in place. There are also issues surrounding  privacy and ownership of data. Knowing this, the MaRS Data Catalyst team is working with utilities, regulators and innovators to launch a pilot program to enable the smart disclosure of smart meter data to third-party solutions in a controlled, secure manner as a first step to spur and support some of the above-mentioned energy innovation opportunities in Ontario.

The following infographic explains the exciting work of MaRS Data Catalyst:

MaRS is holding an event on October 24, 2012 to examine these emerging markets and opportunities from the perspectives of:

  • Pike Research, a market research firm that will highlight the barriers and opportunities in this emerging market;
  • Hydro One, a large utility that will speak about the benefits of smarter energy data use; and
  • Zerofootprint, a startup with energy-sector and data-management experience.

Last but not least, Joe Greenwood, the program director of MaRS Data Catalyst, will be among the audience the day of the event to speak about MaRS’s accessible energy data pilot program. Joe can also be reached in advance at

Jesika Briones

Jesika is the International Program Manager for the Advanced Energy Centre. She works with MaRS cleantech advisors and experts from academia, industry and government to support the development and adoption of clean energy technologies in local and international markets. See more…