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Soaring Electricity Costs Force Layoffs At Foundry

Foothillls Blames Move On Quintupling Of Electrical Bill In January

CALGARY, Updated 5:27 p.m. MST December 21, 2000 -- The electricity Grinch has stolen Christmas from workers at the Foothills Steel Foundry.

About 25 employees of the plant in southeast Calgary have been served layoff notice, and the company blames the skyrocketing cost of electricity for the move.

The layoff announcement has employees upset and worried -- especially people like Art Nicholson, who's worked there for 30 years.

The layoff notice served Thursday goes into effect on January 2. It affects half the people working in the melting and moulting sections of the foundry, and comes as a result of the shutdown of the plant's arc furnace.

"I never think we are going to be laid off -- suddenly it happens," says Nicholson.

The foundry says it had to make the decision because of soaring costs.

Foothills says its electricity bill is now $15,000 a month, or 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour. In January, its projected monthly bill will be $75,000, or up to 24 cents per kilowatt hour.

The company blames the government's deregulation strategy. It says they were given false assurances that power costs would remain manageable.

With reporting by Louie Koutis, Global News

-- Rachel Gibson (, December 21, 2000

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