NB Power customers are facing higher than normal electricity bills for December because of record-breaking cold.
Some people say December's bill is double or triple what they paid in November. And to add insult to injury for some of them, the big power bill comes for a month when they were left without electricity for days because of the ice storm before Christmas.
Kim Smith Clark managed to keep warm by the family's wood stove for the 30 hours they were without power during the December blackout. But she says the monthly bill for electricity in December is surprisingly high — more than double the $75 she paid in November.
"People are getting bills for $400, $500, $700," said Smith Clark. "And I can't imagine how you decide whether to pay NB Power that bill or feed your children. It's extreme."
NB Power spokesperson Deborah Nobes says there is an explanation for prices spiking despite prolonged power outages.
"When your house has been without power for a long time, it gets very cold. Even the furniture gets cold," said Nobes.
"So if your baseboard elements are used to being on ten minutes an hour, they're going to come on and stay on longer to bring that house up to temperature.
"So it's going to use more power than you're used to. And you're going to have to pay for it."
Nobes says most homes had their meters read to determine December's bill. Less than five per cent of bills were based on estimates. Anyone with questions or concerns is welcome to contact NB Power, said Nobes.
"Our agents can come up with all kinds of solutions," she said. "They can take the extra amount and spread it over the year, or spread it over a longer period to help minimize the impact of it.
"So we've got lots of creative ways to help people and we really want people to reach out to us."
Meteorologist Claude Cote says December's temperatures were below normal with more than 20 days when the temperature was "well below" the normal daytime high of minus 1 degree Celcius.
The province also saw a cold snap overnight in December that hasn't been seen since 2009, said Cote.
"Everybody's talking about the polar vortex, so yes, we had some cold Arctic air that prevailed over New Brunswick for much of December."