Powering a Net-Zero Future for Ontario

Ontario Power Generation and Microsoft collaborate to create a Canada-first strategic partnership to power a net-zero future for Ontario. 

In September of 2022, OPG and Microsoft announced a Canada-first strategic partnership aimed at tackling climate change and supporting sustainable growth across Ontario. 

Under this partnership, Microsoft will procure clean energy credits (CECs) sourced from OPG’s carbon-free hydro and nuclear assets in Ontario on an hourly basis. This will enable Microsoft to advance progress on its 100/100/0 by 2030 goal, a commitment to powering its datacentres globally with carbon-free energy, around the clock.

OPG owns and operates one of the cleanest, most diverse generating portfolios in North America, including two nuclear stations, 66 hydro stations in Ontario, and 84 hydro stations in the U.S. operated by its subsidiary, Eagle Creek Renewable Energy. 

“This innovative partnership will not only spur economic development in Ontario, but also serve as a model for other companies and jurisdictions to encourage use of clean hydro and nuclear power,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG’s President and CEO. “As part of OPG’s Climate Change Plan, we committed to achieving net-zero as a company by 2040, and to act as a catalyst for efficient economy-wide decarbonization. Ensuring industry has access to clean energy to offset emissions assists in meeting that goal.”

CECs are tradable, non-tangible commodities that represent the environmental, social, and premium economic attributes associated with generating one megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity from clean or low-emitting electricity generation sources. 

These credits provide corporate electricity consumers with certainty that the power consumed through their operations comes from clean generation sources to help meet their own sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals.

OPG offers voluntary, non-certified CECs from its portfolio of Ontario-sited clean or low-emitting generators, including hydroelectric and nuclear resources. OPG also offers Ecologo-certified renewable energy credits from its small, low-impact hydroelectric facilities.

Transfer of the credits happens through a central registry, which certifies the source of the electricity. The registry also serves to track the credits and ensure ownership claims are not double counted. 

The Ontario government is also developing a voluntary Clean Energy Credit registry, and has directed the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to assess and report back on the design of a provincial CEC registry. The intent is to have the registry available in 2023. OPG will transition to using the Ontario registry when it becomes available.

For OPG, revenue from the sale of CECs could help fund new sources of clean generation which will help to meet increases in forecasted demands from electrification while keeping costs down for ratepayers.

A CEC market provides an important price signal that demonstrates consumer preference for clean sources of electricity. This can incentivize the development of new clean generation in Ontario – which in turn can help further reduce direct emissions in Ontario.  And a low carbon grid attracts new businesses that need reliable, clean supply to meet their ESG goals.

In addition to CECs, OPG and Microsoft will collaborate on several important sustainability initiatives, including co-developing an hourly energy matching platform utilizing Microsoft technology and exploring opportunities to accelerate OPG’s SMR program.

The two companies also signed a Memorandum of Understanding in which Microsoft signaled its intention to purchase clean energy credits based on energy produced by the planned SMR at the Darlington site.  

In the years ahead, OPG will continue to offer clean energy credits to ensure businesses and industry in this province have access to clean energy to use towards their decarbonization and emission goals. It’s just one of the many ways the company is working to build a stronger economy and cleaner environment.

About the Author: 

Ken Hartwick, CPA, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Power Generation 

Ken Hartwick is OPG’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Ken joined OPG in March 2016 as Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President – Finance. He was appointed President and CEO in April 2019.

Under Ken’s tenure, OPG has released its first-ever Climate Change Plan, advanced its electrification efforts through the Ivy charging partnership and PowerON subsidiary, launched a Reconciliation Action Plan, and is currently leading the development of Canada’s first Small Modular Reactor. The company is also undertaking multi-billion dollar overhauls of its hydroelectric and Darlington Nuclear generating stations. The four-unit Darlington refurbishment, one of Canada’s largest clean energy infrastructure projects, remains on time and budget. Ken is currently leading OPG’s commitment to be a global leader in ED&I best practices and one of Canada’s best diversity employers.

About Ontario Power Generation: 

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is a climate change leader with one of the most diverse generating portfolios in North America, meeting about half of Ontario’s power needs. We invest millions in local economies and employ thousands of people to operate and maintain a modern, sophisticated energy fleet. Over the past five years, the company has returned approximately $5.9 billion in net income to the Province of Ontario, our sole Shareholder, for the benefit of its residents. We partner with local and environmental groups to improve the well-being of our many site communities. And our ground-breaking development partnerships with Indigenous partners are creating lasting economic benefits for First Nations communities. 

Having delivered one of the world’s single largest climate change actions by closing our coal stations, OPG is now focused on becoming a net-zero company by 2040, and enabling a net-zero economy by 2050. We’re investing in new technologies to grow this clean economy through transportation electrification, Small Modular Reactors, energy storage, hydrogen production, and hydroelectric projects. We aim to achieve all these initiatives while prioritizing people and partnerships. This includes continuing to make progress on our Reconciliation Action Plan, as well as our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion strategy. 

CGLR’s business and sustainability network programming is supported by the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation.

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