Today, we’re living in a connected, convenient and informed digital age, and are continuously looking for new ways to drive efficiencies and value for our customers. Our multi-utility model uniquely positions Utilities Kingston to innovate and implement change, as we continue to support our vision of building better communities.
Driven by the strengths of our core values - safety, integrity, innovation and reliability - the breadth of skills and technologies across our organization allow employees to share knowledge and collaborate to develop solutions that would otherwise not be possible.
Innovation means we’re looking for new ways to exceed customer expectation, deliver quality services that local residents and businesses can rely on, and improve processes to drive productivity, accuracy of information, and openness and transparency. I’d like to highlight some examples we’re particularly proud of.
In 2017, Utilities Kingston announced that it would make Kingston the first municipality in Ontario, and possibly in Canada, to offer real-time public notification of sewer overflows. The initiative received province-wide recognition, including from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and locally the Cataraqui Conservation Foundation. It would not have been possible without our in-house, cross-functional team. It’s a great example of ways we can make life better for local residents by connecting people through technology.
Another source of pride this past year was the ribbon-cutting and facility tour to celebrate completing $50 million in upgrades that have significantly increased the capacity of Point Pleasant Water Treatment Plant, supporting Kingston’s future growth and economic development. Our in-house experts have built a solution to control and monitor this critical infrastructure so that our certified operators have the tools and systems to ensure a safe, reliable supply of drinking water to our community. This ‘made in Kingston’ technology is unlike any other in Canada, as it has been optimized for our local needs.
In addition to completing the Point Pleasant Water Treatment plant expansion, other major capital expenditures in 2017 were for upgrades to James Street Booster Station, and expansion of Cataraqui Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant. We also managed an increase in operating expenditures as we continued to build value for our customers with conservation programs and the Preventative Plumbing Program.
Technology continually improves the safety and reliability of the infrastructure we manage, maintain and operate. Field workers are now armed with mobile phones and tablets, ready to collect fully-automated field data. Over the last three years, by switching from a paper process to a mobile GIS solution, we have witnessed a 50 per cent productivity increase in hydrant inspection and maintenance, and a 25 per cent productivity increase with the valve operation program. We offer one-stop GIS information for all our utilities – water, wastewater, gas, electricity and networking services – another example of the strengths of our multi-utility model.
Meanwhile, smart meter technology is helping our customers better understand their household energy consumption and be more energy efficient. The Powerful Insights™ algorithm analyzes electricity and natural gas consumption data from your smart meter, gas meter, outdoor temperature readings and publicly available building data about your home. Your personal data is kept private throughout this process. By analyzing how much your energy use changes over the course of a day, a month, or the seasons, we can make calculated estimates as to how your household uses energy, and provide conservation tips that are tailored to you. In 2017, over 6,000 of our 27,000 residential electricity customers received personalized Powerful Insights reports. An overall reduction of energy consumption is directly attributable to this technology and the associated changes being made by our customers.
None of these successes would have been possible without the commitment of our employees to work safely and put the customer first. From storm restoration, to community work, mentoring youth, and collaborating with peers and industry partners, your contributions are helping to build a better community. Thank you as well to our Shareholder, the City of Kingston, and our Board of Directors. Your dedication and commitment to the customer service and cost-saving benefits of our multi-utility model means that our community is receiving the best possible service now and in the years to come.
J.A. (Jim) Keech
President and Chief Executive Officer