Jocelyn Bamford, a white hard hat perched over red hair that curls down around her shoulders, has her hands on her hips. Behind safety glasses, her eyes flash. On the shop floor in the bustling Automatic Coating Inc. plant owned by her family, she has to shout to be heard above the squirt of compressed air nozzles, honks from forklifts, the clang of steel as it’s dipped in baths, and the hum of exhaust fans.
Bamford might be shouting regardless of the noise since the hydro bill for her Toronto-based company has her mad as hell. Once boasting one of the continent’s lowest electricity rates, Ontario today has some of the highest and that has many industrial companies planning to move at least some operations to the United States.
“The government treats us like bourgeois sweatshop operators who have to be stopped,” said Bamford, who has organized dozens of medium-sized companies into the Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers of Ontario. “All the businesses are terrified of the government. My husband said, ‘Well, do you just want to pick up and go?’ And I said, ‘Well, I guess I gotta just stay and fight.’ I feel like I’m the Norma Rae of manufacturing.”
Automatic Coating’s electricity bill has more than doubled in the past decade. Its bill for last November was $49,209.68. The first line is for electricity: $6,577.93. The second line is much harder to explain: it is the euphemistic Global Adjustment charge: 217,165 kWh at 11.6 cents each for a total of $25,223.73.
The Global Adjustment contains many different costs, including Ontario’s payments to solar and wind energy makers at far more than the market rate, the cost to sell excess power to U.S. states at a loss, and even the cost of replacing light bulbs with LED bulbs.
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