Standards to Enable Automated Demand Response in Canada


  • Burgess, J., Gauthier, G., Gravel-Primeau, P. (2022). Standards to Enable Automated Demand Response in Canada. Canadian Standards Association, Toronto, ON.

Executive Summary

Demand response (DR) is becoming an increasingly valuable and important resource for electric utilities and grid operators across Canada. This is driven by the expansion of intermittent renewable energy sources on both the utility and customer-side of the meter, the electrification of heating and transportation loads, and distribution system constraints in many urban areas. Automated demand response (ADR) addresses the uncertainty in traditional DR by removing human agents from the DR signal pathway. In ADR, the utility, grid operator, or program aggregator sends a signal to participating buildings or devices to cut power to non-critical applications and to change heating, cooling, or ventilation set points to reduce the power consumption of predetermined equipment.

There is a growing portfolio of standards for devices and equipment on the customer side of the meter to support participation in ADR. Over the past several years, standards for end-use devices have expanded their scope and now address gateway devices and thermostats, electric resistance and heat pump water heaters, heat pumps and central air conditioners, packaged terminal air conditioners, and pool pumps. Canadian and US electric utilities are deploying new ADR programs and pilot projects, particularly for the residential sector. While these programs are in their early stages and represent a minority of utilities’ total DR savings and budgets, they have shown the potential to reach a broad participant base in the residential sector.

The literature review and research interviews conducted for this report identified market barriers and gaps in the current standards portfolio, and addressed which may enhance the uptake or effectiveness of ADR initiatives across Canada. Specifically, the research identified the following six barriers and gaps and the recommendations to address them:

  • Utility cost (barrier)
    • Consider developing appliance standards to require ADR-enabled water heating.
    • Develop best practices guidelines for ADR program design and delivery for policymakers and utility regulators.
  • Participant value proposition (barrier)
    • No recommendation identified.
  • Interoperability (gap)
    • No recommendation identified. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is currently developing Standard 223P.
  • Electric resistance heating (gap)
    • Engage the OpenADR Alliance and Consumer Technology Association (CTA) to assess the opportunity to develop a standard for ADR-enabled thermostats for resistance heating.
  • Cybersecurity (barrier and gap)
    • Provide support for manufacturers adhering to CSA/ANSI T200.
  • Siloed standards (gap)
    • Consider developing utility guidelines for integrated ADR-DER (distributed energy resource) solutions.