NB Power customers shocked by high bills get cold shoulder from utility

Some New Brunswick homeowners got a nasty shock when they opened their most recent power bills.

Some residents see an abrupt, and unexplained, surge in their monthly bills

NB Power spokesperson Marc Belliveau said that with little snow cover it can be harder to keep down power bills. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Some New Brunswick homeowners got a nasty shock when they opened their most recent power bills.

Ricky Lee bought his one-level, 1,200-square-foot house in Campbellton nearly 12 years ago and said his power bill is usually around $400.

This month it was $757.

He said he has eight baseboards for electric heat and figured something might be wrong with the new digital meter that was recently installed.

"This is only a 1,200-square-foot box," he said.

But NB Power told him there was nothing that could be done about his bill, Lee said. He posted on social media about the hike and said he was overwhelmed by the response. 

He has since removed the post. 

"I don't have the time to fight the fight," said Lee.

NB Power response

In April 2017, the Energy and Utilities Board approved a 2.07 per cent increase to NB Power's residential power rates.

Although it's been a colder winter than usual, NB Power spokesman Marc Belliveau said there has been very little snow cover, which would normally help to insulate some homes and mitigate high bills.

The company does not believe the new digital meters would cause a spike in power bills, he said. 

"Customers can request calibration be checked," he said in an email statement. "They consistently perform well and accurately."

Ricky Lee said the power bill for his one-level, 1,200-square-foot house shot up to $757 this month with no changes — on his part — to his power use. (Ricky Lee/Submitted)

"We encourage people to call us and look into our home-efficiency programs," said Belliveau.

'I was ticked'

Lee isn't the only one who saw a sudden increase in his bill.

Stephen Levenshulme said he made no change to the way he uses power in his home, but his bill climbed from $280 last month to more than $400 this month.

"I was ticked," he said. "There is something wrong here."

Levenshulme also had a digital meter installed and asked NB Power if it could have been the culprit. NB Power told him no.

"The highest bill I've ever had here was, I think, $335 or something close to that," he said.

He heats his home with oil and said he conserves as much power as possible. He and his wife only live on one level of their home.

Lee and Levenshulme said NB Power offered no solutions when they called about their unusually high bills. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

According to Levenshulme, NB Power offered no solutions.

Levenshulme is on a pension and said he isn't sure how he'll pay the bill.

"If I don't, they'll cut us off." 

The New Brunswick government implemented a no-disconnect policy in 2006. It is meant to protect people who can't afford to pay their power bills from November to March. 



 

With files from Shane Fowler

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