Kitchener Utilities Clean Energy Transition Strategy

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The City of Kitchener is planning for the future energy needs of the community. A lot’s changing, and we need your help to think bigger.

As new clean technologies change how we heat buildings and water, Kitchener Utilities is working on a strategy to help residents and businesses transition. As a community-owned energy utility providing natural gas distribution and rental water heaters, Kitchener Utilities has supported the community through changes in the ways we use energy, and we’re getting ready to evolve to meet Kitchener’s energy needs in the future.

We’re developing a strategy for how Kitchener Utilities can future-proof our community energy utility and use its unique strengths to help residents and community members to transition to a net-zero carbon future, where we no longer add more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from fossil fuels like gasoline and natural gas. Given the changes that are underway, the global energy transition is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use these changes to build an even stronger Kitchener.

Learn more about this project:


How you can contribute

As Kitchener Utilities thinks about future energy use across this community, we want to hear your thoughts about this, too. There will be many opportunities to contribute at different stages of this project:

  • In Stage 1 we will build our understanding of residents’ values, goals, and overall thoughts about Kitchener’s energy future.
  • In Stage 2 we will consider different options and assess these together with you.


Stay Informed

Subscribe for updates and be the first to know about news and information about this project. Add your email to the Stay Informed box on this page and click ‘Subscribe’.


The City of Kitchener is planning for the future energy needs of the community. A lot’s changing, and we need your help to think bigger.

As new clean technologies change how we heat buildings and water, Kitchener Utilities is working on a strategy to help residents and businesses transition. As a community-owned energy utility providing natural gas distribution and rental water heaters, Kitchener Utilities has supported the community through changes in the ways we use energy, and we’re getting ready to evolve to meet Kitchener’s energy needs in the future.

We’re developing a strategy for how Kitchener Utilities can future-proof our community energy utility and use its unique strengths to help residents and community members to transition to a net-zero carbon future, where we no longer add more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from fossil fuels like gasoline and natural gas. Given the changes that are underway, the global energy transition is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use these changes to build an even stronger Kitchener.

Learn more about this project:


How you can contribute

As Kitchener Utilities thinks about future energy use across this community, we want to hear your thoughts about this, too. There will be many opportunities to contribute at different stages of this project:

  • In Stage 1 we will build our understanding of residents’ values, goals, and overall thoughts about Kitchener’s energy future.
  • In Stage 2 we will consider different options and assess these together with you.


Stay Informed

Subscribe for updates and be the first to know about news and information about this project. Add your email to the Stay Informed box on this page and click ‘Subscribe’.

  • Council endorses guiding principles for Kitchener Utilities clean energy transition strategy

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    Council endorsed guiding principles with related objectives to help guide work for the Kitchener Utilities clean energy transition strategy. The principles with aligned intentions and objectives were informed by extensive engagement and a high-level environmental scan. The next phase of work will use the principles to assess different business options. Kitchener Utilities’ natural gas delivery business is preparing to evolve to respond to global energy industry changes and align with the City’s and the community’s climate change commitments. Read the full report here.

  • Phase 1 reports now available

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    On Monday, Dec. 11 at 4:30 p.m. we are presenting to Kitchener City Council to seek endorsement of the guiding principles that will steer phase two of this project. The following documents for phase 1 of the project are now available:

    If you would like to view the meeting agenda, visit the Dec. 11 calendar entry at calendar.kitchener.ca/council.

    To watch the meeting live on the day of the meeting or on-demand, visit kitchener.ca/watchnow.

  • Report on phase one to go to Council

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    Thank you to everyone who answered our survey and shared their ideas earlier this year. We will present our report on the results of our engagement to Kitchener city council on Dec. 11. The report seeks endorsement of the guiding principles that will steer phase two of the project.

    If you want to view the agenda and staff report once it’s available, visit the Dec. 11 calendar entry at calendar.kitchener.ca/council. If you would like to speak to the committee during this meeting, please register as a delegation.

    To watch the meeting live on the day of the meeting or on-demand, visit kitchener.ca/watchnow.

  • Take part in Kitchener Utilities' clean energy transition

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    Kitchener Utilities is preparing for a net-zero carbon future and we need your help to get it right.

    For more than 120 years, Kitchener Utilities has provided customers with affordable and reliable energy — and Kitchener Utilities is committed to doing just that for decades to come.

    You can learn about the transition and share your ideas by registering for an online or in-person workshop or by taking our online survey.

    Space is limited and registration is required for the facilitated workshops, which will take place:

    If you prefer to stop by to learn and share your ideas, join us during our informal drop-in on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Kitchener Downtown Community Centre (35 Weber Street West).

  • Possible pathways to clean energy in our community

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    There is broad global agreement that we need to reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by mid-century in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Since our emissions are mostly from burning fossil fuels, like gasoline, diesel, and natural gas, for energy, addressing climate change means changing the systems that provide the energy we use every day. Technology is advancing to meet this challenge, and ways to meet our energy needs without fossil fuels are becoming more and more available. As a trusted provider of energy to the community, Kitchener Utilities is committed to supporting the community as our energy systems change.

    There are things we don’t know about our energy future: There are many paths that could be taken to reach net-zero, and those paths use different technologies in different amounts on different timelines. So we don't know the exact path we'll take in Kitchener, and we need to prepare for different possible futures.

    But there's much more that we do know: We know that that there are already technologies available today that will play a big part in any of the possible paths to net-zero. We can focus on those to set the community up for success.

    Here are some of the ways we know our energy use will change

    Electricity

    We know we will use more electricity than we do today.

    In your life, more of the things you use will run on clean electricity instead of fossil fuels, like personal vehicles. This means you'll need enough electricity to charge your car when you need to, and easy access to EV charging stations.

    For the energy system, this means that we need to generate a lot more clean energy, and make sure that it can be transmitted to people when it's needed. We'll also need a system that can let more people generate electricity, through using equipment like solar panels, and share it to where it's needed.

    Heating and cooling

    We know that we will burn less natural gas.

    About 1/3 of Kitchener's GHG emissions come from natural gas, and most of it is used to heat homes, businesses, and water.

    In your life, the way you heat your home and water could look different. You may choose an electric heat pump when your furnace or water heater reaches the end of its life. Heat pumps are similar to air conditioners but provide both heating and cooling, and are becoming more affordable and available. Heat pumps significantly reduce energy needs because they use a small amount of electricity to move heat around rather than generating it by burning fuel.

    For the energy system, electric heat pumps will add to the additional electricity we will need. Beyond electricity, we need to plan for how to best use limited supplies of low-carbon fuels like renewable natural gas and hydrogen. We also need to consider new ways of providing heating and cooling energy in efficient and affordable ways. For example, district energy systems are used throughout the world and in some Ontario cities to provide heated and chilled water through underground pipes for heating and cooling, instead of fuel.

    Companies that distribute natural gas, like Kitchener Utilities, need to plan for their business and assets for the long term, to make sure that their customers continue to have reliable and affordable energy as more customers switch to new clean energy options, like electric heat pumps.

    Efficiency

    We know that we need to use less energy.

    Energy efficiency and conservation reduces the costs of clean energy alternatives, and gives us more options.

    In your life, you might choose more energy efficient appliances. You might also choose more energy efficient ways to make some of your trips, such as a pedal-assist electric bicycle or public transit.

    For the energy system, we need to support people to use less energy, but we also need to plan for how much energy is needed when. Reducing the amount of energy we need all at once can keep infrastructure costs down. Examples of solutions might be smart systems that can manage how many cars are charging at what times, or programs that pay large customers to reduce their energy use for those rare times when consumption is unusually high, like very cold days.

    We know that Kitchener Utilities is part of the solution

    Kitchener Utillities is committed to being a trusted provider of energy services in the decades to come. As a community-owned energy utility with strong customer service and community relationships, we're in a unique position to support the community through change, as we have through the last 120 years of changes in energy systems.

    That's why we're planning for the clean energy transition.

    View as an infographic


  • 120 years of energy innovation

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    A lot has changed since your community-owned utility started 120 years ago. And through it all we've innovated to help meet your energy needs.



    2023

    Kitchener Utilities continues to provide reliable gas service while preparing for the future

    As the clean energy transition continues and global, national, and provincial energy systems prepare to reach net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century, Kitchener Utilities is preparing to secure a strong future for the energy utility while helping community members and customers achieve their own clean energy transitions.

    In 2022 we had 78,400 customers: 78,000 gas, 400 industrial.

    Our customers that year used 270,000,000 cubic metres (m3) of natural gas. Using this gas produced about half-a-million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.



    2018

    Kitchener Utilities becomes a partner in WR Community Energy

    In 2018, the Community Energy Investment Strategy for Waterloo Region is created in order to advance community energy planning and investment to keep more energy dollars local.



    2004

    Program begins to support using high-efficiency gas furnaces and switching off of propane and home heating oil

    Kitchener Utilities begins to offer rebates for customers to upgrade to more efficient furnaces. The initiative makes home heating more efficient and therefore more affordable for customers, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and their contribution to climate change.



    1998

    Kitchener Utilities begins purchasing natural gas directly from producers

    To help keep costs low for customers, KU begins buying natural gas directly from producers.



    1988

    The rental water heater program begins

    Kitchener Utilities begins to provide rentals for domestic hot water heaters. The service allows customers to reduce upfront costs and receive support from KU in the operation of their heating equipment.



    1985

    Federal government deregulates natural gas market for end users

    This national change means that natural gas prices are no longer set through negotiation between producing provinces and the federal government, and are instead market-based.



    1973

    The gas utility becomes part of the City of Kitchener

    As local services are reorganized by the provincial government, the work being done by many arms-length commissions and boards is taken over by municipalities. The gas utility becomes a division of the City of Kitchener.



    1958

    Gas system switched to natural gas

    In the 1950s, natural gas (methane) becomes more available due to growing supplies, and Union Gas begins gas infrastructure expansion plans in Southern Ontario. Following negotiations with Union Gas and the utility, the old manufactured gas plant is dismantled in June.



    WWII

    Manufactured gas is again used to generate electricity, to address wartime hydro restrictions

    In response to changing energy needs associated with the war, manufactured gas is once again used to generate electricity.



    1937

    Decision to continue local ownership despite energy system changes

    The utility’s directors consider the future of the utility in light of the arrival of natural gas in Southern Ontario. They decide to keep local ownership of the system regardless of the type of gas provided, and opt to continue manufactured gas for the time being.



    1920

    The coal gas system is switched to provide carburreted water gas

    The utility installs what is called the “most modern gas production facility in the country.” The new equipment further improves the reliability of the gas supply.



    1913

    The gas system quadruples customers in 10 years

    In the first decade of the Town’s ownership, the utility significantly increases its number of customers, while significantly decreasing the cost of energy. The number of gas customers quadruples, from 440 to more than 2,000 customers. These customers are consuming 6.4 million cubic metres of coal gas per year in 1913.



    1910

    Local electricity is switched to hydroelectric power

    Berlin is the first Ontario municipality to get hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls through long-distance transmission lines. This is the first time in Ontario that power is transmitted and distributed over long-distance government-owned lines, which were built with the assistance of horses.



    1905

    Fuel for electricity generation is switched to producer gas from coal gas

    Upgrades in the first few years after the Town’s purchase of the system allow the utility to increase its production of electricity.



    1903

    The Town of Berlin buys the private Berlin Gas Company and its coal gas production system

    In 1903, the local gasworks first becomes a public utility after residents overwhelmingly vote for the Town to make the purchase, which costs $90,000. The company is renamed the Berlin Light Commission. At this time, the utility manufactures and distributes coal gas.

    In 1903 we had 545 customers: 440 gas, 79 electricity, 26 industrial.



    Kitchener Utilities is committed to being a trusted provider of energy services in the decades to come. As a community-owned energy utility with strong customer service and community relationships, we are in a unique position to support the community through change, as we have through the past 120 years of changes in energy systems.

    That's why we're planning for the community's clean energy transition.

    View as an infographic


  • The City’s Climate Commitments

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    Through active participation in the ClimateActionWR collaborative of municipalities and non-profit organizations, Kitchener has committed to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions 50 per cent by 2030, and 80 per cent by 2050.

    As a partner in the ClimateActionWR initiative, the City has also endorsed the TransformWR community climate action strategy, which is centred on Six Transformative Changes that must be made by 2050 to address local GHG emissions while building an equitable, prosperous, resilient low-carbon community through the transition off fossil fuels.

    A key transformative change in TransformWR is that “by 2050, businesses and homes no longer use fossil fuels for space heating and cooling, and water heating.”

    Within Kitchener’s boundaries, approximately one-third of community GHG emissions are the result of natural gas use. Of the natural gas sold by Kitchener Utilities, about 85 per cent is used for heating water and spaces. Most of the remainder goes toward industrial purposes.

    So, as part of its endorsement of TransformWR, Council devoted staffing resources toward developing and implementing a business strategy that will support the transition to reduce greenhouse gases.

    This work also aligns with the City’s and Kitchener Utilities’ participation in WR Community Energy, a unique collaborative partnership between the three cities, the Region of Waterloo, and local electric and natural gas utilities to support the community’s energy transition.

Page last updated: 18 Dec 2023, 11:05 AM