Ontario business owners say high electricity rates are a threat to their survival – by Showwei Chu (Globe and Mail – December 20, 2016)


Independent business group says energy prices are the number one issue for members

Tor Krueger has big plans for Udder Way Artisan Cheese Co., which sells handmade goat cheese in Stoney Creek, Ont. But crushing hydro bills are hurting the artisan cheese maker’s plans to modernize his facility so he can get federal certification and sell his cheeses across the country.

“After payroll, hydro is consistently one of my top three operating expenses,” Mr. Krueger said. Hydro One charges him upward of $2,000 a month, and “I don’t have any equipment in here that I would say is drawing a lot of power.”

Other small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Ontario, such as restaurants Berkeley North of Hamilton and Fred’s Not Here of Toronto, are struggling to pay their hefty hydro bills. “That right now is the No. 1 issue for our members,” says Plamen Petkov of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which has 42,000 members in Ontario.

A crescendo of consumer anger prompted the provincial government to offer an eight-per-cent rebate on hydro bills for residential households and small businesses beginning Jan. 1. The discount will cost the treasury $1-billion a year and save the average household $130 a year.

Premier Kathleen Wynne apologized last month for high electricity bills that have forced some residents to choose between paying for hydro, food or rent. The CFIB says hydro costs became a bigger issue for SMBs after mandatory smart meters were introduced six years ago, charging time-of-use prices.

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