Ontario’s energy landscape is changing

Across Ontario, cities are exploring new ways of managing their local electric utility companies.

Technology is changing. Utilities are changing too.

Utilities like Guelph Hydro are looking ahead to decide how to keep pace with changing customer behaviour, new technologies, changing regulations, and increasing competition.

People use less electricity

  • Government encourages conservation with incentives and rebates
  • Smart appliances and apps help people save energy
  • New homes and buildings are more energy-efficient
  • People investing in NetZero and smart-homes, with sophisticated energy controls and dashboards

Effect on utility

  • Customers demand modern services, consumer-friendly tools (dashboards, apps, etc.)
  • Customers demand advanced energy services: home automation services, smart-home development, smart city data and systems management etc.
  • People buy less power from the grid, so utility has less revenue to cover the cost of maintaining local infrastructure.
  • Utility may be forced to increase rates to cover costs.

People use more power at night

  • Electric vehicles becoming more popular and affordable
  • Most people likely plug in and charge at the same time – likely overnight

Effect on utility

  • Local infrastructure has less time to cool down overnight
  • Need to invest in building, maintaining and managing intelligent charging stations to prevent spikes in power consumption

People buy less power from grid

  • Solar panels and energy storage becoming affordable
  • Combined heat power systems: industrial users invest in generation, buy less from grid
  • Micro-grids; network of buildings completely independent from grid

Effect on utility

  • Need to invest in more sophisticated information, data management, and operational technologies
  • Utility revenues decline, costs are shared among fewer ratepayers, rates increase for those buying power from grid
  • As people disconnect from grid, utility could be left with stranded assets

Private, for-profit companies competing with utilities

  • As energy systems become more digitized, technology and communications companies are finding opportunities in the electricity sector and competing with utilities
  • Consumer-savvy companies already offer “behind the meter” energy products and services e.g. solar panels, batteries, storage systems, smart-home lighting, heating and cooling controls etc.

Effect on utility

  • Customers want utility to develop and support new technologies
  • Utility must manage increasingly complex  connections and data for customers
  • Risk being left with old technology or stranded assets

Preparing for a global energy transformation

To keep up with everything that’s changing, utilities like Guelph Hydro must modernize local electricity systems and offer new types of services. That’s why Guelph City Council has carefully explored all options for the future of Guelph’s electric utility..

Recent changes to Ontario’s electricity utility companies

Across Ontario, cities are exploring new ways of managing their local electric utility companies. In 1996, Ontario had 307 separate electricity utilities. Today, that number has shrunk to roughly 70 because many cities have consolidated their electric utility companies to reduce duplication and manage the increasing cost of delivering power to homes and businesses.

  • Waterloo North Hydro is owned by the City Waterloo, the Township of Woolwich and the Township of Wellesley, and is considering options to buy, sell, merge or standalone
  • Veridian and Whitby Hydro have signed a memorandum of understanding with the goal of merging the two companies
  • Enersource, Horizon Utilities, Hydro One Brampton, and PowerStream have become Alectra Utilities
  • Hydro One has an application before the Ontario Energy Board to acquire Orillia Power
  • Hydro One plans to acquire Peterborough Distribution
  • The Town of Midland is considering selling Midland Power
  • Wasaga Beach has voted to retain and grow its electricity utility
  • St. Thomas Energy and Chatham Kent-based Entegrus Powerlines have agreed to merge
  • Thunder Bay Hydro  and Kenora Hydro are discussing a merger
  • City of London is looking for a consultant to advise on next steps for London Hydro
  • The Town of Collingwood is negotiating with a single company to sell the municipality’s share of Collus-Powerstream
  • Goderich Hydro is merging with Erie Thames Powerlines

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