Chuck Howitt, Guelph Mercury
WATERLOO REGION — Bill Mechar first noticed something was amiss when he received his electricity bill for December. The co-owner of Integrated Packaging Films near Ayr was looking forward to a lower charge than the previous month after the plant was shut down for a 10-day Christmas holiday. But when the bill arrived in January, Mechar couldn’t believe his eyes. “Our kilowatt hours were down considerably, but our bill went up from the previous month, which makes no sense.”
When he began digging into the issue further, he was alarmed to discover his hydro costs had been rising sharply since 2009. Integrated makes plastic sheeting out of used water bottles, pop bottles and other products made of PET plastic. Suppliers grind down the bottles into plastic flakes or pellets, and ship them to Integrated where they are melted in two giant extruders and shaped into large rolls of plastic film. The film is sold to customers in Canada and the U.S. who reshape it into plastic trays and containers for food products and plants.
Large and noisy, the 300 horsepower extruders are the main hydro users in the plant. In a recycling industry where margins are thin, they must run 24 hours a day seven days a week for the company to make a profit, says Mechar. Shutting them down for part of the day to save hydro costs is not an option, he says. Efforts to cut his bill through other means such as installing energy-efficient lighting resulted in minimal savings of about 10 per cent.
Mechar estimates his hydro costs have risen by 50 per cent since 2009. Last month, his electricity bill came to $53,000 and if rates don’t go down soon, his annual bill will top $600,000. read article