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Energy Manager

Energy Manager

Firm upgrades to cut hydro bill

Brantford's Hematite Manufacturing plant was recognized Wednesday for its work with Brantford Power in saving almost $200,000 a year in electricity costs.

"This partnership sets a fantastic example for all businesses in Brantford and, truly, across Ontario, to save energy and save money," Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said at the Plant Farm Boulevard plant.

Hematite, which makes light-weight underbody shields for cars, has invested into saving energy by upgrading lights throughout the 8,360-square-metre plant, installing occupancy sensors, upgrading an oven and changing lighting controls. Together, the changes will see the company save 1.9 million kilowatt hours of electricity, or $194,439. That's the equivalent of the hydro used by 200 homes in a year.

"We put in energy monitoring equipment," said plant manager John Graham after giving the minister a tour. "That way we can measure the usage of each machine in real time."

And the company is planning future energy-saving changes, including installing solar panels and replacing compressed air pumps.

The plant, which does work for Ford, Chrysler and Toyota, has been growing steadily since it opened 4 1/2 years ago.

"We put in one line and as soon as it was running we started on the second line and then another, and another," said Graham.

Hematite uses recycled material, high heat, light and robotics to create the shields, which mount under vehicles to protect them and reduce noise. With 120 employees, the company recently added 4,180 square metres to its building.

"We have a great team of young workers here so we wanted to create this 12- by 18-metre cafeteria for them, which has been great," said Graham. "We're very proud of our facility and we love to show it off."

Paul Kwasnik, president and CEO ofBrantford Power, said that part of the utility's job is to promote the responsible use of energy. Utility employees visit businesses to see if they can help reduce energy use and connect firms to government programs.

Hematite, for instance, used the Save On Energy program, which helps with lighting changes and retrofits.

"We'd like to do it more often," said Kwasnik. "We play a valuable role for Brantford's business community."

As for high electricity costs, Kwasnik noted that Brantford Power is only responsible for delivering energy.

He noted that programs are in place to help consumers struggling with their bills.

Thibeault defended the cost of energy.

"I recognize no one in this province should have to make a choice between eating and electricity but we did make choices 14 years ago to build a system that would be clean, green and reliable," he said.

"We forget that we no longer have smog days in this part of our province. They've been gone since 2014 because we eliminated coal, but that came at a cost."

Thibeault said that consumers will be helped by the elimination of the eight-per-cent provincial sales tax on hydro starting Jan. 1.

"I recognize there are families struggling and we're going to continue to find ways to help," he said.

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