OEB Temporary Licence Exemptions to Help Facilitate Innovation

January 9, 2024

Companies that are granted temporary licence exemptions by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) will also now be exempt from certain legislative provisions.

The OEB can approve licence exemptions for pilot projects that further its statutory objective to facilitate innovation in the electricity sector. The exemptions may apply to the requirement to be licensed as an electricity distributor, retailer, wholesaler, unit sub-meter provider and gas marketer, can last up to five years and may be renewed.

Effective January 1, 2024, those granted a temporary licence exemption will also be exempt from certain provisions under the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998, the Electricity Act, 1998, and the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010. This means, for instance, that certain restrictions on business activities, energy generation and the installation of smart meters might not apply to innovative projects. 

The intent is to encourage the testing of pilot or demonstration projects, enhancing the OEB’s flexibility to facilitate innovation within its regulatory framework, while also ensuring that the interests of consumers remain protected. Any company – whether it’s licensed or not – can apply for licence exemptions. To do so, they must submit an application that includes project details, the licence exemption requested and other relevant information. As with any application for a legislative or regulatory exemption, all licence exemption applications will be reviewed, and decisions are subject to the OEB’s processing timeline of 90 days.

This authority comes after amendments were made to the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998, last year. It also follows through on a recommendation, informed by stakeholder feedback, from the OEB Innovation Sandbox Renewal consultation to share lessons learned with the Ministry of Energy about legislative barriers to innovation.

“Innovation in the energy sector demands open, collaborative and experimental thinking. There is now another lever for the sector to deploy innovative projects that deliver consumer value, foster economic development and drive Ontario’s energy advantage,” commented Susanna Zagar, CEO of the OEB.

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