Rising hydro costs are crippling business, according to those in both urban and rural pockets of Ottawa.
Energy bills in Ontario are expected to rise 42 per cent over the next five years on top of recent rate hikes this winter.
The average monthly bill for Ontario homeowners is currently around $125 per month, increasing to $167 a month by 2016.
Within 20 years, the average bill will rise to $210 per month.
One of the factors is the end of the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, which currently takes 10 per cent off part of your hydro bill but is set to end in 2015.
Bruce Hudson, a sixth-generation farmer in Ottawa’s far west end, says his 200 hogs need heating in the winter and fans in the summer heat.
Those hogs also birth about 4,000 hogs each year, increasing the demand.
His electricity bill, as a result, adds up to about $4,000 a month and that is rising on his Kinburn property along Upper Dwyer Hill Road.
“It’s difficult, you can’t make a profit,” said Hudson, who also has cash crops as part of his business, Hudson’s Sweet Corn/Panmure Farms.
“I think it’s reflected in the industry. There’s not many of us left. It makes you wonder, why do you do it?”
No fee increase to compensate
Hudson said the price of livestock only rises and falls based on world markets, so he can’t increase fees due to hydro costs.
To add to Hudson’s dilemma, he heats his barn with propane. There is currently a shortage and it’s become even more costly.
It’s not only farmers facing rising costs due to hydro rates. Alex Lewis, executive director of the Bells Corners Business Improvement Area, said there are many stories of struggle among the hundreds of businesses he speaks on behalf of.
“When you start increasing the operating costs, you start taking away businesses’ ability to hire more employees,” Lewis said.
“It's not economically feasible to continue on this path.”
The 18 Ottawa BIAs have joined together to ask Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne for a moratorium on rising hydro rates, but she has not responded to the request, Lewis added.
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