Halifax coffee shop owner protests power rates with cup display
Published Thursday, February 21, 2013 3:01PM AST
The owner of a Halifax coffee shop is protesting skyrocketing power rates in the province in his own unique way.
“I was trying to open my power bill…and it was nothing short of shock when I saw how much it was,” says Gordon Stevens.
So, he decided to create a display at Uncommon Grounds which illustrates how many cups of coffee he would need to sell to pay his bill.
This month, the number is 861.
“It’s quite dramatic when I walked in here and looked at that, to realize we’re here everyday and you know, you’re thinking, ‘hey, this guy’s making a fortune at selling coffee,’ but he’s got to sell that many to pay the power bill,” says customer Rick Bower.
Stevens hopes the display will get customers talking.
“I’m hoping that people will at least just stop and think about how their power rates have changed and how it’s impacting their lives.”
Energy consultant Todd McDonald is part of the newly-formed organization, Lower Power Rates Alliance, which aims to get the lowest possible power rates, while being a voice for citizens.
He says he isn’t surprised consumers are experiencing sticker shock when opening their power bills.
“We have the highest power rates in Canada right now,” says McDonald. “It’s causing great economic stress on our small business owners and our families who are paying more than double what some other parts of Canada are paying.”
Nova Scotia Power says it is working on solutions to minimize rate pressure on customers, in the short term, providing payment options to those who find it difficult to pay their bills.
“As well as for the long term, we have many initiatives in play right now across the company to find every avenue of savings we can find across the company in different ways,” says Nova Scotia Power spokesperson Neera Ritcey.
“I hope the people appreciate just how tough it is to run a business in Nova Scotia right now, and two, I hope they’ll put pressure on elected officials to do something about power rates,” says Stevens.
The Tories argue their plan would include freezing power rates, while the governing NDP says one of the first things it did was remove the provincial portion of the HST from home heating.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster