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Electricity distribution in Canada

In Canada, distribution companies may be owned by governments or by private investors. Depending on the province or territory, distribution services may be delivered by vertically integrated utilities, which are responsible for generation, transmission and distribution services, or by different electric distribution companies.

In Ontario, for example, the distribution of electricity is carried out by over 90 publicly and privately owned local electricity distribution companies (LDCs or distributors). Each company is responsible for maintaining their community’s network of distribution wires, and is the primary electricity billing agent in their franchise area. The size of their customer base and geographic area varies significantly. The largest distributor is Hydro One, which serves about one-quarter of Ontario’s 4.4 million distribution customers.

Some provincial markets are being restructured, unbundling the major functions of utilities: power generation, transmission and local distribution of electricity. These changes are designed to increase competition, lower prices and provide new options in pricing and services for customers. In markets like Ontario, local electric distributors still have a monopoly on the delivery of electricity to customers in a community, but any number of licensed retailed companies may also sell electricity in that community. Both Ontario and Alberta offer full retail access to electricity customers.


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