Hamilton

$1,400 hydro bills crippling Hamilton small business

Glow Juicery owner Jesse Briscoe says rising hydro costs are putting her business in jeopardy.
Glow Juicery owner Jesse Briscoe says rising hydro costs are putting her business in jeopardy. (Adam Carter/CBC)

When Glow Juicery owner Jesse Briscoe got the first hydro bill for her business, her jaw just dropped.

Horizon Utilities had even called to warn her, but it still seemed unbelievable — the small juicing business she opened in May somehow racked up an almost $1,400 bill from May 17 to July 20.

From July to September wasn't much better, coming in at just over $1,200, and that's for a 950-square foot raw food shop that doesn't use ovens, and tries to do as much as they can in off peak hours.

"It was just a total shock," she said from her shop on Locke Street South. "As a small business, that's like my staffing for two girls."

It's a problem echoing all over the province, with hundreds rallying against surging rates in Hamilton back in September.

Electricity rates have been an increasing issue in Ontario since the Liberals privatized parts of the system in favour of green energy projects.

Give small businesses a break. Do something. Anything.- Jesse Briscoe, Glow Juicery owner

Recently, Ontario canceled plans for up to 1,000 megawatts of power from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources to try to curb the increase.

The province has also scrapped the debt retirement charge from household hydro bills and deferred construction of two new nuclear reactors in Darlington to avoid up to $15 billion in new construction costs.

For Briscoe, this all means that her business might not survive. She has paid staff, but has not been able to pay herself since the business opened. "To get a bill like this, it almost doesn't make it worth it," she said.

In November, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called high electricity prices her "mistake."

In a speech to party faithful at the Ontario Liberal annual general meeting in Ottawa, Wynne said she takes responsibility "for not paying close enough attention to some of the daily stresses in Ontarians' lives."

Calling it a mistake doesn't do much for Briscoe's business, she says.

"Okay, you say it's a mistake, what are you actually going to do about it?" she said.

"Give small businesses a break. Do something. Anything."

How are you adapting to higher hydro bills? Let us know in the comments below, or drop us a line at hamilton@cbc.ca.

With files from The Canadian Press

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