Top Performing Utilities Recognized at Electricity Industry Awards

Electricity Distributors Association (CNW Group/Electricity Distributors Association)

TORONTO, April 1, 2014 /CNW/ - Top-performing electric utilities from across Ontario were honoured last night at the industry's awards gala, which took place as part of the Electricity Distributors Association's (EDA) annual general meeting.

"We're consistently impressed with the scope of achievement and innovation shown by each year's award submissions," says EDA President and CEO Charlie Macaluso. "It's one of the clearest demonstrations of our sector's commitment to efficiency, customer value, and continuous improvement, and we're pleased to announce and celebrate the winners."

Halton Hills Hydro won this year's overall Performance Excellence Award sponsored by Ontario Power Generation. Halton Hills Hydro engages its entire staff in continuous efficiency improvement, and has launched a leading edge corporate health and safety model, which is expected to eventually become part of a cooperative regional initiative. A focus on partnership is further reflected in a unique collaboration, through which Halton Hills has implemented 24/7 monitoring of its distribution system by leveraging the control room of a neighbouring utility.

Halton Hills reaches customers across multiple channels, and is a top-ranked utility in social media engagement as a per cent of customer base. It was among the first to provide online and mobile access to detailed customer energy data. The utility has launched a unique solar generation pilot project, involving pole-mounted panels throughout its service area. Halton Hills also maintains a strong community presence, including collaboration with the Town of Halton Hills on energy conservation.

"This winter's ice storm brought home to all of us the value of electricity. It also showed that our industry was prepared to meet the challenge the storm presented," says Tom Mitchell, President and CEO of Ontario Power Generation. "This only happens through a strong commitment to performance excellence all year long, and we congratulate Halton Hills Hydro on its true commitment to operational excellence, safety and customer service throughout 2013."

The other award winners were as follows:

PowerStream Inc. - Environmental Excellence Award for "Go Green With PowerStream"
This employee-engagement program includes a smart commute program, with van/car pooling and support for electric vehicle use; "beyond blue box" recycling; and educational programs. Vanpooling alone takes nearly 50 vehicles off rush-hour roads, reducing carbon and congestion, while 85 per cent of employees report feeling engaged in company environmental initiatives.

Kingston Hydro - Conservation Leadership Excellence Award Sponsored by Ontario Power Authority
Leveraging a multi-utility structure - including unique linkages between water and electricity conservation programs - supports cost-effective results for this utility. Other strategies include ground-breaking distributed generation connection policies, and in-home display research. Its customers invest more in conservation initiatives each year than the combined value of capital upgrades to Kingston Hydro infrastructure.

London Hydro - Customer Service Excellence for "Property Management Portal"
This unique portal gives property owners and managers immediate and 24/7 access to data that in the past required hours on the phone - saving time for both them and staff. Almost a third of those eligible are registered for the service, which gives them single-window and self-serve access to information such as occupancy and connection status at their rental properties.

Hydro Ottawa - Communications Excellence for "Go Paperless E-Billing Campaign"
A new approach to e-billing promotion centered on the offer to plant a tree on behalf of every new sign-up. Done in partnership with Trees Ontario, the campaign accelerated  e-billing adoption and resulted in achievement of 90 per cent of the annual target within less than four months. Separate incentives also encouraged employees to personally promote e-billing.

Entegrus Inc. - Public Relations Excellence for "Taking Charge of Your Energy Costs"
A growing number of inquiries from commercial and industrial customers regarding billing, and specifically the global adjustment charge, were the impetus for a customer outreach event. The opportunity for face-to-face conversation with the utility and provincial energy agencies was well-received by customers and has helped foster a more collaborative approach to energy-cost control.

The EDA also recognized long-standing individual contributions to the electricity distribution sector with an Honourary Member Award for Keith Mathews, a former chair of Lakefront Utilities in Cobourg; and with a Chair's Citation for Brian Bentz, current President and CEO of PowerStream in Vaughan. Toronto Hydro President and CEO Anthony Haines also received a Chair's Citation, in recognition of his highly effective public communication leadership during the December ice storm.

The Electricity Distributors Association is the voice of Ontario's local electricity distributors, the publicly and privately owned companies that safely and reliably deliver electricity to nearly five million Ontario homes, businesses and public institutions.

SOURCE Electricity Distributors Association

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For further information:

Kevin Hanson
Director, Corporate Affairs and Communications
905-265-5337 / 647-627-1826