By Connor Lynch
Only a provincially-made monopoly would tell its clients, “we don’t want your business.”
As farmers in Eastern Ontario already grapple with ever-soaring hydro bills, some have gotten calls from Hydro One telling them to lower their usage or their rates will go even higher. So much for large-purchase discount.
Vankleek Hill elevator operator Kevin Wilson said he got a call from a Hydro One representative on April 5 and was told that if he didn’t reduce his usage, his rates next year would go up 30 to 45 per cent.
Wilson said he already spends $60,000 a year, or $5,000 a month, on hydro. A 45 per cent increase would push his annual bill to $87,000, nearly the up-front cost of a diesel-powered generator.
So that’s his plan for next year, he said. His payback time on the initial cost is two years based on the numbers he’s crunching, and he’ll save money year-round on powering his elevator. Two years ago, he reviewed his business plan and, at the time, contemplated getting a generator. The dependability of the grid convinced him not to. “But now the dependability has become almost a liability,” he said.
Wilson said he’s heard from about 15 growers across the province, some with elevators, who saw his tweet on social media site Twitter, and were concerned that a similar hike could be coming to their farms.
Gary Derks who runs an elevator at Chesterville, put in his own generator a year ago. “It wasn’t even a hard decision,” he said. At only $100,000 for a diesel-powered generator, it was far less expensive than a hydro line. “It’s not a fair game they’re playing, so I quit.”