Seeing red over hydro
CBC Radio was at Alexandria’s Quirky Carrot early Monday morning where it broadcast two different segments on Thursday’s provincial election, specifically about the riding of GlengarryPrescott-Russell.
The first featured a panel of constituents talking about one of this election’s hot button topics, hydro rates, while the second featured Liberal candidate Pierre Leroux and NDP candidate Bonnie Jean-Louis exchanging their views. The PC candidate, Amanda Simard, did not attend. The segments were hosted by Robyn Bresnahan.
The first portion of the show featured North Glengarry Councillor Carma Williams, Steve Beauchesne of Vankleek Hill’s Beau’s Brewery, and Bob Stinson who owns R&B Trucking in Vars.
Mr. Stinson said that at one point he was paying about $900 per month in hydro fees just to operate his home-based business. He said he was able to reduce costs by installing timers, by installing diesel heaters in his trucks, and putting woodstoves in his home. Today, he pays about $400 a month. Still, he’d like the government to stop paying so much money to solar and wind farms to produce energy “when we don’t need it.”
He says he’ll support the PCs because he likes how “they manage the economy as a business” and that he likes balanced budgets.
Ms. Williams, who also operates a mobile hair salon, says that one year ago, she was fielding several calls from concerned residents who were scared they wouldn’t be able to pay their ris- ing hydro rates.
She says delivery charges continue to be an issue. She mentioned one individual who would like to rent out some of her properties but the difference in delivery charges between urban and rural areas is so extreme that she has to charge more for rent.
She said that hydro delivery charges also wrecks havoc on the township itself. Ms. Williams related that about 15 per cent of the deficit incurred by the Glengarry Sports Palace is directly because of hydro delivery charges.
Ms. Williams did not blame the Liberals for the high rates, saying that several political parties contributed to the problem over the years, though she believes voters will blame the Liberals on election day.
For his part, Mr. Beauchesne says he’s a Liberal supporter, though he says his decision to support them has little to do with hydro. Indeed, he says Beau’s Brewery has been able to reduce hydro costs by using more efficient equipment and smarter business practices.
He said that five years ago, it cost about four cents of hydro to make one litre of beer. Today, it’s down to 3.5 cents.
“There are other burning issues mostly related to regulation on beer... because that’s going to affect the livelihood of everyone that works at Beau’s,” he said.
Mr. Beauchesne says the Liberal government has done more for craft breweries than “any government has in the past 40 or 50 years. They’ve brought beer into grocery stores, insisted that a certain percentage of beer on the shelves has to be craft beer. They’ve done a lot for the craft beer industry.”
He is nervous about the PC promise to offer “buck-a-beer” – which he says would exclude craft breweries in favour of “the cheapest corn-syrupiest beer you can find.” He’s also unhappy with the NDP’s saying it would slow down the implementation of moving beer into grocery stores, especially since grocery stores do a better job of selling craft beer than the Beer Store or the LCBO.
stands voters’ anger over hydro rates. The father of three teenaged boys says he’s constantly having to turn off lights in his house in order to save on electricity. However, he says the Liberals are not the only ones to blame regarding the hydro mess.
“The reality is if you look back over the last 30 or 40 years, it doesn’t matter if it was a Liberal, NDP, or PC government, nobody thought to the future,” he said. “Nobody thought about replacing poles or infrastructure. All the profit they were making was to keep the rates artificially low.”
He said that the present Liberal government inherited the aging hydro infrastructure and was forced to deal with the problem.
Mr. Leroux also addressed the allegations that the Liberal government’s hydro rebate was, essentially, just kicking the problem down the road to be dealt with by future generations.
He said it had to be done because Ontarians were having a hard time paying hydro, though he also noted that the PCs would exacerbate the problem even more with its promise to reduce hydro rates by an additional 12 per cent.
For her part, Ms. Jean-Louis faced criticism about the NDP’s pledge to reduce hydro rates by an additional 30 per cent by buying back Hydro One.
“Critics say buying back Hydro One will not affect hydro rates because Hydro One doesn’t set the rates, the Ontario Energy Board does,” said Ms. Bresnahan. “So the logic is flawed.”
Ms. Jean-Louis replied the NDP’s long run view is that Ontarians never wanted Hydro One to be sold and that the people would be served better if the utility was owned by the government. She said that a privatized company would promote “profits over people.”
Both candidates said it’s important to invest money in infrastructure so that the government doesn’t have to deal with such a problem again.
Liberal, NDP candidates debate as Tory hopeful declines invitation to radio show
ON THE AIR: NDP candidate Bonnie Jean-Louis and Liberal candidate Pierre Leroux were at the Quirky Carrot in Alexandria on Monday morning to talk about hydro rates, and other issues, on CBC radio.