Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce Applauds PUC’s Efforts

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Electricity costs have been identified as a large barrier to successful business practices in Ontario. Recently, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce issued a survey geared towards shaping our advocacy efforts at the provincial level of government. The results of this survey have confirmed that local businesses identified electricity costs as a significant issue for the business community.

The PUC’s announcement to reduce its Delivery Costs represents a positive step toward assisting in the reduction of some energy costs for local businesses. Chamber of Commerce President Monica Dale states that “The cost reduction in the delivery fees from the PUC will help businesses combat high energy rates here in Sault Ste. Marie. We at the Chamber applaud the efforts made by the PUC however, we must keep in mind that there is much more to be done before we declare a victory on energy rates.”

The provincial government is in the midst of energy rate increases and expresses no intention to reduce energy costs in the near future. Ontario’s energy rate strategy is geared towards energy conservation rather than energy cost reductions. Dale notes that “The government is really pushing energy programs that will help businesses reduce their consumption through retrofit programs for things like lighting. The reality is that some businesses require large amounts of energy consumption and these programs are just not cutting it. Simply put, we have to lower energy rates in Ontario if we want to remain a competitive business jurisdiction.”

Another consideration that must be noted is the fact that businesses require efficient infrastructure but also reliable infrastructure. If Sault Ste. Marie’s energy costs are low, it cannot be at the expense of reliability. “Our energy system must be a balance of lower rates and reliable infrastructure. The Chamber network has made recommendations in a report earlier this year toward that goal.” Dale said.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has partnered with local Chambers across the province to prepare policy submissions, letters and other advocacy pieces that lobby the government for change in the energy sector. The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber has been a part of these advocacy efforts and continually works to ensure our local voice is heard at all levels of government. Dale concludes, “We recommend that you take the time to read the report titled ‘EMPOWERING ONTARIO – Constraining Costs and Staying Competitive in the Electricity Market’ on the Chamber’s website.”

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The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce has been serving the Sault since 1889. Two years after the first Canadian Pacific railway reached Sault Ste. Marie, a group of businessmen formed an organization dedicated to community welfare and development. During the two years leading up to the Chamber's founding railway spurred an economic boom. Business prospered, the population doubled, and on June 25, 1889 forty businessmen organized the Sault Ste. Marie Board of Trade. Today, this non-profit organization continues to serve the interests of business in a rapidly changing economy. The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce is funded through annual membership of its's member businesses and agencies, enabling it to advocate on behalf of business. Through the years, the Chamber has worked closely with the business community and various levels of government to find solutions to challenges faced by the community and has spearheaded numerous solutions.