CONSUMER WATCHDOG

Cottage owner's power bill jumps 1,000%, Nova Scotia Power says meter is right

A huge power bill for a family cottage has the owner scratching her head, but Nova Scotia Power says it must be paid.

Nova Scotia Power says something at cottage owned 62 years by woman must have been left on

Viola Eisnor looks at the $770.43 Nova Scotia Power bill she received for her summer cottage. The bill from September to May usually amounts to $40 to $60. (CBC)

The owner of a summer cottage in Lunenburg County is questioning her winter bill from Nova Scotia Power after it skyrocketed to more than 10 times what she typically pays during the fall and winter.

Viola Eisnor, 87, has owned the property, a gathering spot for her family, for 62 years, and has never faced a bill even close to the one she received in May.

The family uses the cottage from May to late September, with the bill usually about $150.

In September, the family closes the cottage, shuts off the breakers and unplugs everything. The bill from September to May usually amounts to $40 to $60.

However, last winter, it skyrocketed to $770.43.

"I couldn't believe it," Viola Eisnor said. "I had to keep reading it, then I called them and they said that's what it [the meter] read."

Eisnor and her family are adamant the breakers were off and everything was unplugged. 

Nova Scotia Power told CBC News it removed the meter at the customer's request and installed a new one. The old meter was tested in an accredited meter shop.

"It showed the meter was functioning properly," says Nova Scotia Power spokeswoman Bev Ware.

"There has been no other random up and down history with the customer's usage," Ware said, calling the bill an isolated issue.

"All of these factors suggest that something was left on over the winter."

'You're up against a monopoly'

NDP interim Leader Maureen MacDonald has been frustrated in her efforts to help Eisnor deal with Nova Scotia Power, but she said the bottom line is customers have no recourse.

"You're up against a monopoly. You can't go down the road and purchase power someplace else. And literally the lights can go out if you're not doing what the power company wants in the timeframe they would like," MacDonald said.

Ware said Nova Scotia Power has tried to work with Eisnor by removing late fees and arranging repayment over a period of months.

The power authority does have a dispute resolution officer who can review customer complaints. Eisnor's family said it will contact that office in hopes of getting a review.

About the Author

Yvonne Colbert

Consumer Watchdog

Yvonne Colbert has been a journalist for nearly 35 years, covering everything from human interest stories to the provincial legislature. These days, she's focused on helping consumers get the most bang for their bucks and avoid being ripped off. She invites story ideas at yvonne.colbert@cbc.ca.

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