Rapid Tests Administered
Employee Vaccination Rate
Meetings of the Pandemic Planning Committee
At Waterloo North Hydro (WNH), we touch the lives of our customers every day, providing the electricity needed for their homes, schools, and businesses. We deliver electricity safely and reliably, at the lowest reasonable cost. Serving more than 58,000 customers, we deliver energy across a large urban and rural service area spanning 683 square km. We do so with employees focused on quality service and customer satisfaction.
Waterloo North Hydro Inc. is a municipally-owned electricity distribution company incorporated under the Business Corporation Act (Ontario) as of May 1, 2000.
Deliver electricity efficiently to our customers.
To be of service to our customers by delivering electricity to homes and businesses in our community – safely, reliably, 24/7.
Be the flexible, sustainable distribution platform for connecting consumers and producers of electricity, and be the trusted energy advisor of choice for our customers.
Respect, Commitment to Excellence, Service, Teamwork and Collaboration, Responsibility and Accountability, Safety and Environmental Stewardship.
WNH is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Waterloo North Hydro Holding Corporation, which is owned by the City of Waterloo, the Township of Wellesley, and the Township of Woolwich.
The continued impact of COVID-19 and the public announcement of the potential merger of WNH with Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro distracted from a normal business year for Waterloo North Hydro in 2021.
WNH continued to address COVID head-on in 2021, providing personal protective equipment and education to employees on health and safety measures to keep everyone safe while working. Before it became commonplace, WNH, in partnership with the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, introduced a two-week Rapid Antigen Testing Pilot Program. Employees embraced the pilot program, which WNH continued throughout the year. Later in the year, WNH released a Vaccination and Rapid Antigen Testing Policy encouraging full vaccination by all employees to maintain a healthy and safe workplace; 96 percent of WNH employees were fully vaccinated by the end of 2021.
Waterloo North Hydro Inc.
Rene W. Gatien,
President & CEO
Waterloo North Hydro Inc.
In October, after much work and studies behind the scenes, the five shareholder municipalities of Kitchener, Waterloo, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich, announced the proposed merger of Kitchener Power Corp. and Waterloo North Hydro Holding Corporation and the respective LDCs, Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro and Waterloo North Hydro. Following public engagement and finalizing key agreements, approval was received in December 2021 from all five municipal Councils and the respective boards to proceed with the proposed merger. The focus now shifts to the LDCs seeking approvals to merge, and the work to integrate our companies.
Despite the distractions, the unwavering commitment by our talented employees at all levels of the company towards serving our customers, produced exemplary results in 2021, much like we have done in prior years. Our Customer Service team worked with customers to find payment solutions that eased the burden of the pandemic impact. Our goal was to keep the power on to customers and businesses so they can continue to do the amazing things we do in the Waterloo region.
WNH continues as an industry leader in electricity reliability, most notably through the award-winning
Fault Location Isolation and Service Restoration (FLISR) technology. This software lowers both the frequency and severity of unplanned outages across WNH’s service territory and led to a 33 percent decrease in Customer Minutes of Interruption in 2021.
Along with several other awards such as one of Canada’s Safest Employers, and one of Canada’s Greenest Employers, Waterloo North Hydro received recognition as one of Waterloo Area’s Top Employers for 2022. This is the sixth consecutive year that WNH has earned this distinction. It is a direct reflection of the hard work and dedication of all employees to consistently be committed to serving our customers and looking out for one another, exceeding our expectations and ensuring WNH remains a great, award-winning place to work.
It is especially rewarding that our employees have achieved great results and received recognition of several awards through the pressures of COVID these past two year. The Board of Directors and the Executive Team are very proud of the accomplishments of our employees and the organization, and extend our appreciation to all of the employees.
2021 was a challenging year for businesses across Ontario as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to change the way WNH and other organizations did business. WNH continued to operate with staff working both remotely and in the office for portions of the year. To help keep employees safe, the utility organized staff into cohorts for remote and in-office work to avoid cross-department interaction and decrease opportunities to spread illnesses across the organization. Before most employees returned to the office full-time, WNH introduced a detailed return to work and reopening plan that put the physical and mental safety of employees, their families, and the public at the forefront.
On October 1, a proposed merger between WNH and Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro (KWH) was announced at a virtual news conference. The merger would create a larger, local and publicly owned power utility.
Following the announcement, the two utilities and their shareholders began a public engagement process, which included a Public Information Session in mid-October; the launch of a public-facing website with detailed merger information, news updates and Frequently Asked Questions.
The four-week public engagement process was completed in the fall of 2021, and the five municipal councils of Kitchener, Waterloo, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich approved the merger of Kitchener Power Corp. and Waterloo North Hydro Holding Corporation and their subsidiary companies Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro Inc. and Waterloo North Hydro Inc.
The merger still requires approval by the Ontario Energy Board, which will review the merger application.
Going above and beyond to help all customers is a hallmark of WNH’s daily operations. As many of our customers faced another challenging year, WNH’s Customer Solutions team worked to offer the necessary support to customers to provide peace of mind and keep their accounts in good standing.
Waterloo North Hydro’s customers expect the utility to deliver important information in a timely and accessible way. As more customers shifted to working from home and managing their accounts online, WNH focused its communications efforts to meet evolving customer expectations.
The utility continued to embrace email notifications as a way to complement traditional hand-delivered notices. Building on work begun in 2020, the utility emailed impacted customers Pre-Construction Notices, Pre-Design Notices and Notices of Scheduled Power Interruptions. In 2021, WNH began sending new customers a Welcome Email, which contained information on the services and tools available to them. Additionally, WNH sent targeted emails to all customer groups each quarter that contained information on account management tools, safety tips, and efficiency resources. The customer-focused email blasts were well-received by customers, with an average open rate of 59%, well above the industry average of 26%.
The corporate website, as well as WNH’s Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts continued to be important sources of information for customers throughout 2021. Social media messages surrounding rate changes, office closures, and energy efficiency tips provided important updates for customers during the various provincial lockdowns. The website’s dedicated COVID-19 information page became a one-stop resource for customers looking for account management tools, payment assistance resources and safety information. WNH’s website saw a 14 percent increase in visitors in 2021 and its social media sites each saw an increase in followers, as well as customer interactions.
Delivering electricity safely and reliably to customers is WNH’s mission. The utility has been an industry leader in electricity reliability, most notably through the implementation of the Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) and the award-winning Fault Location Isolation and Service Restoration (FLISR) technology. This software, which earned WNH the Electricity Distributors Association Performance Excellence Award in 2021, improves the lives of our customers by playing a key role in continuing to lower both the frequency and severity of unplanned outages across WNH’s service territory.
The physical and mental health and well-being of WNH’s staff is the utility’s top priority and at the heart of everything it does.
Employee education and safety training is a key pillar of WNH’s commitment to safety. With employees continuing to work remotely, as well as in the office throughout 2021, the utility offered a range of in-person and virtual training sessions to both trades and non-trades staff covering a variety of subjects, including Emergency First Aid, Rescue Training, and quarterly health and safety update meetings. Continuous training and employee education are some of the reasons that WNH has recorded eight consecutive years with zero loss time injuries.
Public safety education and awareness are an important part of WNH’s community outreach. The utility provides important electrical safety education, information, and resources to promote public safety.
To help guide the utility’s future safety outreach programs, and to measure the effectiveness of recent safety campaigns, WNH completed a Public Awareness of Electrical Safety Survey in late 2021. The survey, which is completed every two years, asks area residents important questions around six key electrical safety themes.
The 2021 survey showed that respondents are more aware of electrical safety hazards and important safety messages than ever before. Safety awareness is increasing in the Waterloo region and WNH’s efforts to educate the public are helping to keep area residents safe.
The WNH Elementary School Electrical Safety Poster Contest is a highlight on the calendar for many local children, parents, and educators. In 2021, students from 20 different schools in Waterloo Region submitted hand-drawn artwork for their chance to win a great prize.
The theme of the fourth annual contest was “Stay Safe and Avoid Overhead Powerlines.” Students in Grades 1-8 at Public and Catholic Schools in WNH’s service territory designed a poster explaining how to stay safe around overhead powerlines. WNH provided the students with important safety tips and videos featuring Lucky the Squirrel to help guide their creations.
More than 40 entries were received in three age groups (Grade 1-3, 4-6, and 7-8). WNH held a vote amongst employees to determine finalists in each age group. The public then selected the winners through an online vote.
The winning artists each received a special gift from WNH and the title of Safety Ambassador. The artwork was used in bill inserts, print advertising, social media, and web safety campaigns, allowing children to educate WNH’s customers on the importance of looking up, looking out, and staying clear of overhead powerlines.
Promoting employee wellness and building a sense of community among staff is part of WNH’s daily operations and a big reason why the utility is an award-winning place to work. With employees working both in the office and remotely throughout 2021, staying connected was a main theme for the year.
The utility’s wellness program was adapted to encourage participation both in the office and at home. There were monthly wellness newsletters provided to all employees, which included healthy recipes, health and diet tips, mindset challenges, and expert advice. The utility also encouraged employees to get outside, stay active, and eat healthy during the cold winter months with a 14-Day Self Care Challenge in January.
As staff returned to the office and COVID-19 restrictions changed, more on-site events were held, including an Employee Appreciation Lunch in September and a drive-through Kids Christmas Event in November.
WNH also supported several important mental health initiatives throughout 2021, including Bell Let’s Talk Day and the Movember movement.
Supporting residential, small business, and medium and large commercial customers in their efforts to save money by better managing their energy costs has long been a focus of WNH.
These efforts continued in 2021, as the utility helped customers reach their energy-saving targets, access incentives through local programs, and helped with Save on Energy program applications.
Waterloo North Hydro continues to invest in research and new programs designed to advance technology and provide value to customers through innovation. In 2021, WNH worked with various institutions, groups, and organizations to unveil a pair of sustainability projects.
The organization introduced a pilot program to help Electric Vehicle drivers manage their charging demand and better control their electricity costs. The Elocity Pilot Program provides EV drivers with real-time information on their electricity consumption and charging patterns. This information will assist utilities in better understanding both EV residential charging patterns and demand, and provide opportunities to test demand response with EV owners, leading to greater grid reliability.
Visit elocitytech.com to learn more.
WNH partnered with Innovia GEO Corp., Grand River Energy, Pileworks, WalterFedy, Ryerson University, and HMC to complete the GEO-Pile Demonstration project at its Eby Rush Transformer Station. The demonstration site is the first of its kind to test Innovia’s novel geo-piles and cements WNH as an industry leader in utilizing green technologies. Geo-piles are a new type of in-ground heat exchanger. They utilize existing structural equipment to replace conventional geothermal equipment – yielding two building functions from the same installation cost.
The project at the Eby Rush Transformer station features a geo-pile array that has been installed to provide heating and cooling to our station building. The station will also act as a research centre, as data collected at the site will be used to compare the performance of the array against traditional vertical geothermal systems while continuing to improve the system for future uses.
Visit innoviageo.com to learn more about the project.
As one of Canada’s Greenest Employers, WNH is a national leader in sustainability both within the organization and in the communities it serves. The utility’s Administration Building and Service Centre has a LEED silver certification, and WNH is committed to a 20 percent Greenhouse Gas reduction, as well as a target of 80 percent waste diversion and an 80 percent water footprint reduction by 2025 through its partnership with Sustainable Waterloo Region.
WNH continues to stand out amongst other Ontario LDCs and build on its high-quality reputation. The utility’s achievements are reflected in the numerous awards and recognitions received in 2021.
WNH is an active contributor to organizations and charitable groups across our service territory.
2021 United Way Campaign
Support The Food Bank Through eBilling
Christmas Family Program
Sharing expertise, resources and ideas helps WNH remain a top-performing LDC and ensures our customers receive the best service possible. The utility is pleased to be an active member in many community and industry organizations committed to improving the Waterloo region and the electricity distribution sector as a whole.
Waterloo North Hydro’s connections to all aspects of its service territory continue to strengthen. Ensuring its infrastructure can adequately prepare for future growth while continuing to serve existing customers is an important part of the organization’s overall corporate vision.
In 2021, WNH invested more than $21.6 million in new and upgraded infrastructure to ensure an adequate and reliable supply of power is available to meet customer needs and enable economic growth in the region. Capital investments are used to replace aging poles, overhead lines, and underground distribution systems in residential subdivisions, as well as transformers, and substation equipment.
WNH completed several internal projects, including the expansion of its MetsCo asset management software to improved the quality of analytics, streamlined the user interface, and simplify study processes. The updates allowed WNH to use the software to prioritize its 2022 overhead and underground capital rebuild programs, targeting the highest risk assets and optimizing budget dollars.
Waterloo North Hydro continues to achieve strong financial performance by balancing system reliability and service while minimizing controllable costs associated with operating, maintenance, and administration. For the year ending December 31, 2021, net income from operations amounted to $7,940,000 for a return on equity of 7.82 per cent.
Waterloo North Hydro delivered 1,459 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy to 58,766 customers in 2021, a 1.5 per cent increase from 2020. WNH’s customer base has seen steady growth over the past five years. While the customer base has continued to grow, the prevalence of energy-efficient products for the home has led to a slow decrease in customer consumption. The population within WNH’s service territory is expected to continue to grow steadily, allowing for sustainable revenue generation.
The Board of Directors of Waterloo North Hydro Inc. are appointed by the WNH Holding Corporation and are responsible for the overall direction of the company. Day-to-day leadership and management of the corporation are delegated to the Chief Executive Officer and the Leadership Team.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Vice-President, Finance, and Chief Financial Officer
Vice-President, Information Technology Services
Vice-President, Engineering and Stations
Director, Corporate Services
Bank: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
1 King St. E, Kitchener
Counsel: Miller Thompson LLP.
295 Hagey Blvd #300, Waterloo
115 King St. S, Waterloo
To keep everyone safe while working, WNH provided protective equipment and educated employees on COVID health and safety measures (including handwashing, social distancing, mask-wearing and vaccines). The utility also added awareness signs throughout the building and introduced capacity limits in meeting rooms and common spaces.
Education and awareness were key components of WNH’s pandemic response. WNH educated employees on COVID health and safety measures through 16 Employee Education documents, 15 virtual information sessions and regular updates to signage, information bulletins and department meetings. The employee-led Pandemic Planning Committee steered the utility through its pandemic response, meeting 78 times throughout the year.
In May, WNH, in partnership with the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, introduced a two-week Rapid Antigen Testing Pilot Program. Employees embraced the pilot program, which had a 47 percent participation rate during the initial two-week run. WNH chose to continue the program throughout the remainder of 2021 and 678 tests were completed by the end of the year.
Later in the year, WNH released a Vaccination and Rapid Antigen Testing Policy to maintain a healthy and safe workplace through encouraging vaccinations and rapid testing. By the end of the year, 96 percent of WNH employees were fully vaccinated.
By working closely with customers, providing patient and understanding assistance, offering flexible payment arrangements, and promoting available financial assistance programs, WNH decreased the number of past due notices sent in 2021 by 37 percent over the previous year. The work done by WNH’s Customer Solutions team also resulted in a marked decrease in customer disconnections and deposits collected.
As the continuation of the pandemic shifted customer needs and requirements, the utility responded by shifting focus to online account management tools and service forms.
WNH converted many PDF-only service request forms to updated, fillable online versions, which led to an increase in online form usage and lessened the reliance on phone calls and in-person meetings to make account updates. Customers were also encouraged to register for My Account and eBillling, as well as sign-up for Pre-Authorized Payment or Equal Payment Plans to help take the worry out of managing their accounts. WNH ran three eBilling campaigns for residential customers, as well as a separate campaign for small business customers, ultimately leading to 3,050 new eBilling subscribers in 2021.
Although the utility encouraged customers to use online tools, the Customer Solutions Department continued to provide exceptional service to customers who contacted WNH. Staff fielded more than 25,000 phone calls in 2021, answering 94.71 percent of those in 30 seconds or less, an increase of eight percent over 2020 and the highest percentage ever recorded by the utility. WNH also had a billing accuracy of 99.96 percent and surpassed the Ontario Energy Board’s Service Quality Indicators for 2021.
FLISR led to a 33 percent decrease in Customer Minutes of Interruption in 2021, resulting in more than 1.357 million minutes of customer interruption saved. Over the past three years, WNH has expanded the use of FLISR and the ADMS throughout its service territory, and as of the end of the year, 95 percent of customers are on FLISR-enabled feeders.
WNH also understands that reliability and customer needs are ever-changing, and as the electrical grid continues to expand and diversify, the utility wants to continue to position itself as an industry leader. In 2021, WNH partnered with Survalent and other Ontario LDCs to create a platform that will provide electrical utilities with a detailed understanding of local energy sources, including wind and solar power, within their systems. The platform will provide real-time supply and consumption information to help utilities plan for changes in the electricity market, ensuring WNH will remain on the leading edge of reliability in the years to come.
WNH’s commitment to health and safety encompasses mental health awareness. WNH was the only Local Distribution Company among 10 Ontario workplaces selected to participate in the Roadmap to Psychological Safety in the Workplace program by Howatt HR, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, and St Mary’s University. In August, WNH employees participated in the voluntary Mental Fitness Index Survey. The purpose was to help WNH understand the factors that affect employees’ experiences at work. The results can help WNH take actions to create a safer, healthier, more supportive, and more productive workplace. Employee participation eclipsed the 30 percent target by reaching 44 percent.
The utility’s mental and physical health and safety efforts earned national recognition, as WNH was awarded the 2021 Excellence Awards in Psychological Safety and Wellness and Safest Electrical Utility from Canada’s Safest Employer.
WNH assisted 19 commercial and industrial customers through Save on Energy programs, including Retrofit and the Process & Systems Upgrade Program, securing almost $700,000 in incentives and helping to reduce their total energy consumption by more than 4,000 MWh.
WNH provided energy management assistance through several local programs. The Strategic Energy Management Program produced 229 MWh of energy savings for large customers. The Refrigeration Efficiency Program led to 28 installations, totaling more than $42,000 in incentives and 150,752 kWh in energy savings.
The utility also assisted homeowners and residential customers in finding ways to save through quarterly eBlasts, and by sharing regular efficiency tips on social media and the corporate website.
To further support its sustainability goals, WNH has implemented robust recycling and waste diversion programs that includes the recycling of industrial waste, old poles, wires, metal materials, and electronics, as well as pens, printer cartridges, various types of lightbulbs, coffee bags and depleted batteries.
The employee-led Green Team promotes environmental awareness and sustainability amongst WNH employees using education bulletins and the annual Eco-Challenge. This year’s challenge saw 40 percent of employees participate in events that included a bike tune-up, neighbourhood cleanup, a clothing drive, and a green thumb challenge for the WNH gardeners. WNH employees were also encouraged to reduce their use of plastics and support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Beyond employee-led initiatives, WNH further enhanced its sustainable output with the installation of a ground mount solar photovoltaic system. The project will generate about 244,500 kWh a year and allow WNH to offset approximately 27 percent of its electricity needs from the grid, while also helping the utility to provide guidance and support to its customers seeking information on similar systems.
The utility’s long-standing support of the United Way continued with an employee-led campaign in 2021. The campaign included turkey raffles, a pancake breakfast, samosa sales, a 50/50 draw and a silent auction, among other crowd-pleasing events. More than $9,500 was raised for the United Way through the month-long campaign. As part of this year’s campaign, WNH employees also held an inter-departmental Food Drive to support the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. A total of 661 pounds of food were donated, which is enough for 846 healthy meals.
With the help of our customers, WNH donated a total of 4,500 meals to The Food Bank in 2021. In the fall, the utility donated six meals to The Food Bank for each customer that registered for eBilling during its campaign. The utility also ran a special Week of Giving eBilling campaign and donated 12 meals for each customer that signed up from November 29 until December 6.
WNH employees have also supported local families through the Christmas Family program. In 2021, we raised $1,000 to brighten the holiday season for two families.
WNH also supports local universities and colleges. In 2021, WNH donated $5,000 to Conestoga College’s Powerline Technician Program. This donation provides four students with scholarships of $1,250 each. In addition to providing financial support, WNH also donates equipment, including trucks and trailers that are scheduled to be replaced by newer models. Former WNH employees are also program coordinators, and current employees act as program advisors. WNH also supports the two universities in its service territory. WNH supports several programs at Wilfrid Laurier University, including its Business Program. The utility also provides assistance and guidance to the University of Waterloo’s Engineering Program, and sponsors the school’s Midnight Sun Solar Car Team.
Over the past 5 years WNH staff have supported the United Way with contributions of over $55,493