120 years of energy innovation
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kitchener Utilities begins purchasing natural gas directly from producers
To help keep costs low for customers, KU begins buying natural gas directly from producers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.