Homeowners and small businesses are bracing themselves for the yearly electricity bill hike, despite the Liberal government’s promise to halt the Efficiency Nova Scotia rate increase.
There are two reasons for the latest jump: the rate hike is going up and so is the fee for energy conservation programs.
To save money Aquafresh Laundromat owner Joe Saba says he’s done away with some of his lightbulbs.
“We changed our light in the ceilings. We took down half of what we have, almost,” he said.
He also bought new energy efficient washing machines.
Even though, it's the dead of winter, Saba has turned off the heat. He said the warmth from the fridge and the dryers keeps his place comfortable.
But he said he misses having the heat on.
“A bit yes, a little bit,” he said.
Saba said he’s increased prices, but there's a limit on what he can pass on to customers. He’s also cut hours to his part-time workers.
Despite everything he's done to cut his power consumption, Saba expects to pay even more on his next bill.
“I’ve noticed the months of December, January, February, the power bill goes up automatically," he said.
The Nova Scotia Power rate climbed by three per cent this month. For the average homeowner, that works out to at least an extra $3.50 per month
On top of that, the monthly fee to pay for Efficiency Nova Scotia programs is jumping. The increase will likely mean a $1 fee will be added to a monthly charge of about $4 on power bills.
Independent by 2015
The Liberal Party campaigned on a promise to scrap it.
Energy Minister Andrew Younger said he hoped to stop the Efficiency Nova Scotia rate increase, which was approved by the Utility and Review Board and amounts to up to an additional $8.7 million this year.
He’s now vowing to wipe the charge off of bills by next year.
“It will be coming off the bills on Jan. 1, 2015. Efficiency Nova Scotia will run independently,” he said.
Younger said the government is developing a plan for the funding model that supports Efficiency Nova Scotia, but he wouldn't reveal details until legislation is announced this spring.
For Saba, it's not soon enough.
“Thanks for making me feel really bad right now," he told CBC. "I was trying to forget about it."