Provincial Business Network Calls for Action on Rising Electricity Costs

Soaring Electricity Prices Reach Crisis Point, According To New Research

TORONTO, July 8, 2015 /CNW/ - In the most widely consulted report in the organization's history, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has today called on the Government of Ontario to take immediate action and address the business community's rising electricity costs. The report, Empowering Ontario: Constraining Costs and Staying Competitive in the Electricity Market, makes five recommendations that government and energy agencies should take to curb costs and keep business in the province.

The report is accompanied by public opinion research from Leger, which cautions that soaring electricity prices have reached a crisis point for Ontario businesses and consumers. The research finds that 81 percent of Ontarians are concerned that rising electricity prices will impact the health of the Ontario economy and the same percentage fear that rising electricity prices will impact their disposable income. These numbers rise to over 90 percent in northern Ontario.

"The price of electricity in Ontario is set to rise over the next two decades, adding to the cost of doing business in the province," said Allan O'Dette, President & CEO of the OCC "If real and meaningful action is not taken to mitigate these increases, businesses will leave the province, jobs will be lost, and our economy will suffer."

Among the report's recommendations is to keep the Debt Retirement Charge on residential bills until it has been retired, spreading the burden of past government decisions across ratepayers. The Chamber also recommends that government improve the transparency of electricity pricing and system cost drivers. By publishing average electricity rates and disclosing the costs of important investments, government will be held accountable for future decision-making. The lack of transparency in the system has led to reduced customer engagement and confidence in the electricity market. Currently, less than half of Ontarians understand the drivers that contribute to rising electricity bills.

"The Ontario Chamber Network of 60,000 businesses consistently hears that the price of electricity is undermining their members' capacity to grow, hire new workers, and attract investment," said O'Dette. "The Government of Ontario has before them a number of decisions that must be made in order to bend the trajectory of soaring electricity costs. A first step will be to increase the transparency of decision-making in the system so that there is clear accountability and confidence in the electricity market."

The report also examines options that government should not take, such as importing hydroelectric power from Québec to replace nuclear generation and cancelling feed-in tariff (FIT) contracts. An analysis of all the options considered can be found at occ.ca.  

ABOUT THE ONTARIO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is an independent, non-partisan business network. Our mission is to support economic growth in Ontario by advocating for pro-business policies and defending business priorities at Queen's Park. For more than a century, the OCC has been providing our members with practical supports, advantageous network opportunities, and access to innovative insight and analysis. We represent local chambers of commerce and boards of trade from communities across Ontario. Through this network, we are the voice of 60,000 members that range from small businesses to major corporations and industry associations. Together, our members employ two million people and produce nearly 17 percent of Ontario's GDP.

The OCC is Ontario's business advocate. For more information, please visit www.occ.ca

SOURCE Ontario Chamber of Commerce

For further information: Media Contact: Karl Baldauf, Vice-President, Policy & Government Relations, 647.888.2866, karlbaldauf@occ.ca

RELATED LINKS
http://www.occ.on.ca

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