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Great Demand Response project benefits tenants and OCH

Hydro Ottawa and Ottawa Community Housing have teamed up to help make some of our tenants’ homes smarter.

The Great Demand Response project will put solar panels on the roofs of four homes on Sand Cherry Private in Overbrook.

Hydro Ottawa purchased the equipment so that OCH could install the solar panels and connect them to a battery inside the home, which will store the energy generated by the panels.

Then a smart thermostat – developed by the University of Ottawa and Energate – will determine whether the power needed to heat and light the home should draw from the grid, the solar panels, or the battery.

The smart technology will decide which is best, based on things like the time of day, cost and availability of power. Tenants will be able to operate their thermostats from their smart phones.

This will allow them to program the temperature at home so that it’s lower while they are out or at work, and then remotely increase the temperature on their way home, says Dan Dicaire, who works as the Energy and Sustainability Officer for OCH.

Also, the kilowatt hours generated from the solar panels will provide direct credit on the tenants’ electricity bills.

The other key benefit is the panels. The battery will power each homes’ fridge, a baseboard heater and a dedicated plug, so tenants will still have power for key things like food storage, heat and their phones during a power outage.

“It’s a great benefit for tenants,” Dicaire said. “It’s also a research project because it teaches us how a truly smart grid behaves when you add solar panels and a battery for storage on a local level.”

Dicaire says that’s important for utility companies like Hydro Ottawa, because it teaches them different ways to deal with demands on the grid and reduces potential power outages.

The project is made possible through the Ontario Smart Grid Fund, a government program that funds research projects that improve the grid.

Ottawa Community Housing and Hydro Ottawa have entered into an agreement that will last until 2020. Based on the electricity rates in the contract, and the estimated amount of electricity the solar panels will generate, Dicaire says he expects tenants will save at least $45 per month on their electricity bills.

The savings are dependent on a number of factors such as weather and tenant participation, but Dicaire says the battery will help store electricity so that tenants won’t have to buy energy off the grid when it’s most expensive.

As part of the project, the technology will be installed in six homes at 265 Viewmount Dr. as well.

 Solar panels were installed on the roofs of four homes on Sand Cherry Private in August 2018.

Solar panels were installed on the roofs of four homes on Sand Cherry Private in August 2018.

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