ASHRAE at the Heart of Ontario’s Power System – IESO Tour


A group of SEBT were recently given the opportunity to visit the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in Mississauga. The IESO is described as the heart of Ontario’s power system with the important mission of balancing the supply and demand for electricity in Ontario.

Kate and her colleague Paul, who generously took the time to meet with us, provided us with an informative presentation on IESO operations. IESO and OPA is going through a merger starting next year and this will likely bring on a number of changes. During the presentation, we were situated in a conference room overlooking the control room. At the end of the presentation, Paul called down to give the go-ahead on opening the curtain. Of course, all students were fascinated by what was displayed below.

The importance of IESO is emphasized when looking into the heart of the operation. In the control room there are system operators that go through months of extensive training in simulators before they take off the training wheels and go live. Each operator has ten monitors with constantly updating information. In addition to that, a wall of monitors supply any other information needed. They display weather conditions for predicting renewable energies, news channels that are used to forecast behavior and energy consumption, as well as constantly updating information on power generators in Ontario and adjacent provinces and states. There is a tremendous amount of live data on current demand and production of any large generator connected to the grid.

Former systems operator Paul’s refers to the control room as the air traffic center of electricity. He describes his work experience in the control room “like playing a big videogame” and encourages all interested students to apply for summer jobs with IESO. He mentions that if you have a sharp mind then it might be you in that control room one day.

We soon made our way to look at the HVAC equipment and part of the power supply. The IESO has an enormous backup battery system and diesel generators in the case of a power failure. This ensures that even in the most critical hour, IESO should still have a constant supply of electricity to help balance the power of Ontario.

The students left in awe of what they had seen and with new gained respect for the forces at work to keep our lights on. If you are interested in more opportunities like this one, then get involved or stay involved with the ASHRAE Humber College Student Branch.

Written by Emilia Lundh