A public meeting held Thursday to discuss a proposed Hydro One rate hike in Leamington became a sounding board for area residents frustrated by rising electricity costs.
The meeting, hosted by the Ontario Energy Board, gave people an opportunity to express their concerns about the utility provider raising its distribution rates by $2.79 each month starting next year, with increases every year until 2022.
During the event, some shared their fears that paying more for power could drive them out of the area.
"I don't see a future for my sons in this business in this region in the next few years," said Gerry Mastronardi, a Leamington greenhouse operator.
Chatham- Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls, shared the same concern, adding it's not fair to charge these residents so much for hydro.
"I am not seeing headlights all I am seeing is tail lights," he said. "When businesses leave Ontario that affects employment, family incomes and also affects the children."
Hydro One representatives said the company is looking to increase its rates to cover the cost of repairing aging infrastructure.
"We looked around the province and we did consultations with 20,000 customers and we found that they really want reliability," explained Natalie Poole-Moffatt, vice president of corporate affairs for the utility provider. "We always look for efficiencies so we are going out there to make the changes in the areas we need to."
She added rural customers will also be receiving around a $600 reduction annually on their bills starting next month due to the Fair Hydro Plan.
But some, including Kingsville resident Bob Tracey, were not convinced.
Tracey sat in the back row taking notes throughout the presentations and said while the meeting was informative he has had enough of skyrocketing hydro costs.
"The increases have been outrageous over the last few years," he said. "Our hydro bills have gone through the roof and it has got to stop."
Staff from the OEB said they are just beginning the process of analyzing Hydro One's application. Over the next 10 months the board will work through the process of determining whether the request to raise fees is fair.