ORHMA: Hydro rebate won’t ease costs
TORONTO — The recently announced HST rebate on hydro bills will do little to ease the cost of operating a commercial oven, according to the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA).
In its throne speech, the provincial Liberal government announced it plans to introduce legislation that would rebate the provincial portion of the HST for hydro customers, equaling an eight per cent savings. The rebate would go into effect on Jan. 1. The announcement didn’t ease the concerns of the ORHMA.
“People cannot afford the pricing of hydro, there’s no break for our sector,” said Fatima Finnegan, ORHMA director of corporate marketing and business development. “We have to have our ovens on. As soon as a cook comes in they fire everything up, we spike a lot in our sector with electricity pricing.”
The issue for ORHMA members isn’t the price per kilowatt, but the global adjustment charge, which accounts for about 65 per cent of the members’ hydro bill, Finnegan explained. She added an income tax credit already reimburses the cost of HST for restaurant operators, while commercial businesses still pay the debt retirement charge.
“With the throne speech, that was kind of adding salt to the wound,” Finnegan said. “We’re really trying to get in front of the Ministry of Energy to say enough is enough.”
The association receives daily calls from members inquiring about efforts to relieve the cost of electricity.
“The calls are never about gas, it’s always about power,” Finnegan said.
The ORHMA does have a partnership with the ECNG Energy L.P. that allows the association to purchase electricity and gas in bulk to sell to its members.
“It is the largest hospitality energy aggregating program in Ontario,” said Luisa Perini Parkes, ECNG’s manager of client strategy and communications. “Servicing over 1,000 end use locations, the ORHMA program searches the market for the best wholesale price available from suppliers.”
The program allows operators to secure stable pricing for one- or three-year terms and eliminates price markups through hydro retailers.
“Typically prices are anywhere from 15 to 40 per cent below retailer pricing, and is otherwise unattainable,” Perini Parkes said.