Big electric bill, break-in, seen as setbacks for abattoir in 2013

By Ken Johnston

Last year’s message of “Use it or Lose it” seemed to hit home with members of the Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association.
Bill Darby, President of the Abattoir Committee, reported that “We have made significant improvements in our operations this year.” He explained that they increased flow of cattle from 435 head to 600 head. This is partially due to marketing and diversifying.
The abattoir purchased equipment to allow them to slaughter poultry as well. They ran about 1,200 chickens through the facility, which Darby says is equivalent to about 40 beef.
“While we are not yet in the black we are making progress,” said Darby.
However, the facility did experience one major setback that they did not anticipate. Since the construction of the abattoir the facility had been operating with a temporary electric service. However, in the fall Hydro One converted them to a permanent service and billed them retroactively for four years. “The problem we have with the bill is that they read one month and then estimated the rest based on that. The bill came in at $28,000.”
A bill that they could not afford all at once. So they took out a line of credit to pay it so that their power was not cut off.
Darby told the Record that the month they read was an exceptionally busy month and that the committee feels it is unfair to base the entire bill on that month’s usage.
Unlike residential customers, the bill can not be paid over time... it had to be paid within a month or the electricity would be shut off and the abattoir would be out of business.
Another setback that happened last week involved the abattoir being broken into. In addition to the damage caused by the thieves they also stole some cash and a laptop computer.
Darby was pleased to see the usage of the facility up, but encouraged producers to commit to even more usage to get the facility out of the red and to help pay off the big electric bill.