Horizon Utilities Corporation – a rich and pioneering history

Hamilton and St. Catharines are the community roots for Horizon Utilities – a local distribution company with a long and proud history of industry leadership.

From the advent of the world's first long distance transmission line, to being the first electric utility in Canada to evaluate its performance on triple bottom-line reporting, Horizon Utilities is proud of its leadership in Ontario's energy sector. The company's history is steeped in innovative firsts, ground-breaking achievements and memorable milestones.

The beginning of electricity — 19th Century

  • 1883 — Hamilton installs Canada's first incandescent streetlights
  • 1884 — St. Catharines Electric Light and Power is incorporated to generate electricity and provide electric streetlights
  • 1890 — Hamilton Electric Light Company Limited issues bonds for the development of its system
  • 1896 — Cataract Power Company is formed with plans to harness water power from DeCew Falls in St. Catharines for delivery in Hamilton, connected by the world's first long-distance transmission line – 56 kilometres
  • 1898 — DeCew Falls station is completed, making it the oldest continually running hydroelectric plant  in Canada
  • 1899 — Power demand continues to grow and, through merger, the Hamilton Electrical Light and Cataract Power Company is formed

Progressive years —  20th Century

Hydro workers from the early 20th century
  • 1907 — Dominion Power and Transmission is formed from Hamilton Electrical Light and Cataract Power and other companies
  • 1911 — Hamilton voters support owning and operating a municipal electric distribution utility as part of the 'at-cost' Hydro-Electric Power Commission (HEPC, later known as Ontario Hydro) system, beginning operations in 1914
  • 1914 — St. Catharines Public Utilities Commission is established to own and operate a municipal electric distribution utility as part of the HEPC system
  • 1919 — HEPC Annual Report boasts that Hamilton, whose 'at-cost' rates are based on HEPC supply costs, enjoys the distinction of having the cheapest power rates of any city in the world
  • 1930 — HEPC purchases Dominion Power, whose distribution assets are then added to the municipal Hamilton Hydro-Electric Commission
  • 1950s — Ontario moves for frequency standardization, changing all of the 
    25-cycle portions of the province to 60-cycle, except for the HEPC's system supplying the steel mills in Hamilton from Niagara Falls
  • 1960 — St. Catharines Hydro merges with Port Dalhousie Hydro and the Ontario Hydro assets in Grantham and Merritton are absorbed
  • 1960s – 1990s — Ongoing infrastructure and technological investments ensure robust and reliable electricity distribution networks in St. Catharines and Hamilton
  • 1997 — Flamborough Hydro, which will become part of Hamilton Hydro, expands its service territory in Waterdown by annexing territory from Ontario Hydro

A new millennium — 21st Century

  • 2000 — City of St. Catharines recreates St. Catharines Hydro Commission as St. Catharines Hydro Utility Services Inc. in response to the Energy Competition Act, 1998
  • 2000 — Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Hamilton and Stoney Creek's municipal electric utility commissions amalgamate as part of the new City of Hamilton and are recreated as Hamilton Hydro Inc. to conform with the Energy Competition Act
  • 2005 — Hamilton Hydro Inc. and St. Catharines Hydro Utility Services Inc. successfully merge in only 22 weeks to form Horizon Utilities Corporation – becoming the then third largest municipality-owned electricity distributor in Ontario
  • 2005 — Horizon Utilities installs its first smart meters, a major step in building a smart grid, subsequently becoming among the first LDCs to be fully deployed with smart meters with all customers on Time-of-Use rates
  • 2006 — Horizon Utilities is awarded the prestigious OPG-EDA Performance Excellence Award for the success of its merger integration
  • 2008 — Horizon Utilities moves to full sustainability reporting under the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework, equally measuring its social, environmental and economic performance, and publishes its first "sustainability-based" annual report
  • 2009 — Horizon Utilities is named the Ontario Energy Association's Company of the Year for its leadership in sustainable development
  • 2009 — Hamilton steel mills are converted to 60-cycle power with the conversion of the last remaining 25-cycle power from Niagara
  • 2010 — Horizon Utilities achieves GRI A+ ranking in sustainability, making it the first electric distribution company in Canada to achieve this distinction
  • 2011 — Horizon Utilities is awarded Canadian Electricity Association's Sustainability Company of the Year and named to Hamilton-Niagara's Top Employers list
  • 2012 — Horizon Utilities becomes the first company to ever win the Canadian Electricity Association's Sustainability Company of the Year Award for two consecutive years

Today, Horizon Utilities is one of the largest municipally owned electricity distribution companies in Ontario. The company provides electricity and related utility services to 240,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Hamilton and St. Catharines. It is focused on helping to build sustainable communities while making continual investments in asset renewal, technology and people.