Ontario’s minister of energy is promising help will soon be on the way for small business owners looking to rein in ballooning hydro costs.
Bob Chiarelli is the Ontario Minister of Energy. (Provided)
Bob Chiarelli told members of Ottawa’s business community in a speech on Tuesday morning that he planned to announce measures that would save small enterprises money on their hydro bills.
However just what form that relief is going to take remains unclear.
Mr. Chiarelli said he wants to model the program after pilot projects that Hydro Ottawa has run that have, according to him, “proven effective in saving local entrepreneurs hundreds of thousands (of dollars) on their local hydro bills.”
“Our government is now looking at ways to expand this program and to reach out to a group that needs some attention in the system, and that is smaller commercial operators,” he said on Tuesday morning.
“We hope that we will have something to announce in the near future that will be significantly beneficial to small commercial operations,” he added.
Hydro rates are expected to steadily rise in the coming years.
Mr. Chiarelli, in a plan released last December, said the province is anticipating rate increases of 42 per cent over the next five years. There would then be larger increases over the next two decades.
That prompted a collection of merchants’ associations in the Ottawa area, the Ottawa Council of Business Improvement Areas, to send a letter to the province asking it to place a moratorium on energy increases.
Many small- and medium-sized businesses have already seen substantial increases in the amount of money they’re spending on energy since a change in pricing took effect a few years ago.
Those changes were intended to encourage consumers to use more energy at night by making it more expensive to use it during the day. However that’s also when many small business owners need to use energy the most.
Mr. Chiarelli spoke Tuesday at the Eggs 'n Icons breakfast series, an event jointly organized by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and the Ottawa Business Journal.