Tuesday, May 5, 2015 7:15:14 EDT PM
New, higher hydro rates kicked in on Friday — and at least one small business owner in Welland isn’t happy about it.
Sharon Hielema, who operates East Main Laundry with her husband, fears it will force her to raise prices for the first time in a long time.
The Ontario Energy Board’s summer pricing change kicked in on May 1, bringing a 2.1 cent increase for on-peak electrical use.
The change also saw a 0.3 cent increase for off-peak use, and a 0.8 cent increase for mid-peak use.
That brings the pricing to 8 cents/kWh for off-peak times (weekdays 7 p.m.to 7 a.m., weekends and holidays), 12.2 cents/kWh for mid-peak (weekdays 7 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.) and 16.1 cents/kWh for on-peak (weekdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
The OEB said most households on Time of Use pricing use about two-thirds of their energy during off-peak hours, and therefore will not see a drastic shift in their bills.
According to the OEB website, Time of Use pricing is meant to encourage households and small businesses to use electricity during lower-cost time periods to ease pressure on the provincial power system and help the environment.
But Hielema said Tuesday that for her, using electricity only during off-peak hours simply isn’t an option.
East Main Laundry uses more electricity than many other businesses of its size. They have owned it for four years and in that time have never raised their prices, despite upgrades and improvements to the facility.
But now with higher hydro costs, she said, that might have to change in order to offset the extra cost.
Hielema said small businesses, mom-and-pop shops like hers, are going to be the ones to suffer with the increases.
She said although they haven’t seen yet what the increase is going to look like for them, she expects it will be significant.
“I just hope it isn’t going to bankrupt all the little businesses,” she said.
“Some of them won’t survive all these increases.”
For households, there are tips and tricks to conserving energy and saving money with these new pricing changes.
Perry Orosz from Welland Hydro-Electric System Corp. said with the summer heat coming, residents should also be mindful in using their air conditioners, which use a lot of energy.
He advised setting the temperature a little higher so it doesn’t work quite as hard, and if it’s not that hot out turn it off to save energy.
“Anything that cools or heats uses a lot of energy,” Orosz said.
The Ontario Energy Board reviews prices for households and small businesses twice each year on May 1 and November 1.