Putting Sustainability into Action with Horizon Utilities

Putting Sustainability into Action: Rates, Renewables, Conservation, Smart Growth

PDF version of the presentation prvided by Neil Freeman, Vice President, Business Development Horizon Utilities to HARE members

Click here to open a PDF version of Neil Freeman’s presentation

A better future is not all about one effort, such as solar energy or turning off unnecessary lighting.  Rather, a smart and all-encompassing approach to energy including wiser usage, sustainable reduction and renewable generation are what will get us there.

On February 19, 2014, Neil Freeman, Vice President, Business Development for Horizon Utilities spoke at the Central branch of the Hamilton Public Library on the multi-faceted approach that Horizon has been successfully implementing.  This blog entry summarizes some of those efforts.  Click the image to the right for a PDF version of the presentation.

Better rates

The savvy folks at Horizon Utilities know that everyone wants lower electricity rates.  These make residential customers happy and encourage commercial business to relocate to Hamilton and become customers.  Through partnerships with municipal and commercial entities, Horizon has been using conservation incentives and innovative information systems to keep rates low.

Sometimes, good intentions require a framework to realize measurable success.  On that front, Horizon has sought certifications to help focus their initiatives, as well as prove and share their efforts globally.  These include ISO 14001, ISO 26000, Sustainable Electricity Company and an A+ rating with the Global Reporting Initiative.

Renewable energy

Image of a commercial building with solar panels installed - courtesy Horizon UtilitiesOn the renewable energy front, Horizon Utilities now has 6.4 MW of generation spread across 280 microFIT installations and 24 FIT projects.  There are still 70 microFIT and 25 FIT projects in the connection queue, and they are estimating 60-70 microFIT and 10 FIT projects per year going forward.  This means that they are most certainly not standing still on renewable energy!

Some of these solar installations are on Horizon-owned buildings in Hamilton and Stoney Creek, developed through their subsidiary, Horizon Energy Solutions Inc.


Horizon’s latest project is a computer data model that integrates all their electricity consumption data with geographic and realty data to graphically show consumption across their customer area.  By combining usage with realty data, a usage per square metre metric can be extracted and examined.  This kWh/m2 information allows for highly focused conservation efforts.  This is a much wiser approach than blanketing the city with pamphlets.

Smart growth

By combining this information with municipal planning, a highly sustainable smart growth initiative can be built.  By increasing density, more housing and economic activity can occur without major infrastructure investments.  Greater density leads to greater walkability, which helps environmental progress.

Image representing what is and what could be with a Smart Growth strategy - courtesy Horizon UtilitiesCombining utility and realty information has more benefits as well.  MLS data could include better information on existing electrical infrastructure and capacity information, helping businesses find the ideal location.

They are also using this information to improve the existing provincial rule set around customer connection costs and processes.  This will allow new customers to take advantage of a connection cost based upon real needs, rather than upon a generic framework.  This new practice could reduce the connection cost of a commercial entity by up to 100%.  This is exactly the type of incentive that can drive new customers to Horizon and new jobs to Hamilton.

Attracting commercial customers

Before Horizon began building this comprehensive database tool, it was very difficult for a business to discover all the information necessary to locate their ideal property.  It is now magnitudes easier, and the tool isn’t even finished yet.

Once a business has chosen their ideal site, Horizon information can lead to various retrofit incentives.  By actively seeking these opportunities and partnering with the municipalities of Hamilton and St. Catharines, Horizon is able to pride itself on securing the largest saveONenergy grants every year since its inception in 2008.

As in all business, these efforts have all begun from the desire to improve their business and bottom line.  The success of their work will lead to a healthier Hamilton through increased use of renewable energy, energy waste reduction and better urban planning.

HARE would very much like to thank Neil Freeman, Vice President, Business Development, Horizon Utilities for speaking to our group and engaging in an excellent question and answer session.

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