Power for the People

1906–2006: One Hundred Years of "Power for the People"

beck_0.jpg"Nothing is too big for us. Nothing is too expensive to imagine. Nothing is too visionary." — Sir Adam Beck

On May 14, 1906, the Power Commission Act, or more formally "An act to Provide for the Transmission of Electric Power to the Municipalities", was granted Royal Assent. This Act created the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario (HEPC).

Premier Sir James P. Whitney appointed Sir Adam Beck as the first chairman of the Commission. He served in this role until his death in 1925.

Beck, who had been appointed minister without portfolio in 1905, was a strong advocate for publicly-owned electrical generation and transmission. Promoting the concept of "power at cost", he had chaired the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Inquiry. The Commission of Inquiry's report led to the passing of the Power Commission Act by the legislature.

The first bulk transmission line built by HEPC from Niagara Falls was completed in 1910, and switched on during a ceremony in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario.

HEPC would go on to purchase most of the generating stations on the Canadian side of the river. It also constructed its first generating facility on the Niagara River, the Queenston-Chippawa Power Development (later renamed Sir Adam Beck 1), transmitting its first electricity in 1922. Later, the larger Sir Adam Beck 2 was built, which went into service in 1954.

HEPC officially became Ontario Hydro in 1974. In 1997-1999, Ontario Hydro was split; generating stations were transferred to Ontario Power Generation, transmission assets were transferred to Hydro One.