Skyrocketing hydro bills threaten Essex County museum

Skyrocketing hydro bills threaten Essex County museum

Staff at the Canadian Transportation Museum and Heritage Village are struggling to keep the lights on and fear they may have to cease operations because of skyrocketing hydro bills.

"We've seen a huge hike in our hydro costs," said museum official Megan Meloche. "It's caused us to be in a position of whether we can actually sustain the museum and keep the doors open."

Meloche said the museum has been forced to put much-needed capital projects on hold. It has boosted fundraising efforts, but still doesn't have the money to hire enough staff to expand its children's education program. 

"It's a big cost for us on a monthly basis," said Meloche. "Our bookkeeper is forced to choose who can be paid at which time, because we simply does not have the revenue to keep us afloat."

The museum was slammed with a $5,500 hydro bill last August and this February, a down-time for the facility with reduced operating hours, the museum's hydro bill approached $4,000.

Meloche appealed to Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak, who highlighted the museum's plight in Question Period Thursday.

The NDP says its hydro plan will lower bills by up to 30 per cent and reverse the privatization of the province's energy system.

"We want a cut to hydro bills implemented immediately, but Wynne's Liberals voted against doing that," said Natyshak in a news release. 

Meloche said she is concerned about the impact hydro rates are having on similar organizations across the province.

"There are museums and historical organizations and non-profits all over Windsor Essex County and Ontario that I know are in the same position that we are in, where it's hard to keep the doors open," she said. "You can't get rid of a hydro cost, you can't say this year we're not going to pay hydro and we're going to put funds towards something else."