Nova Scotia Power says it's willing to work with customers who have received higher than usual power bills this month.

Some customers have been shocked to see their bills double and triple after the utility estimated 100,000 bills because winter weather prevented them from getting to meters so they could be read.

The New Democratic Party says that's not acceptable.

"Well, those numbers are just staggering really," said leader Maureen MacDonald. "I've seen people who've been hit with a doubling of their bills and most people don't have that in their budgets."

The power company has taken the unusual step of posting a message on the front of its web page, explaining that the estimated bills were based on usage for the same time last year, but now that meters are being read, the real usage, higher because of colder temperatures, is pushing bills up.

For those on fixed incomes, the bigger bills are bad news, but NS Power spokesperson Bev Ware says it's always willing to discuss payment options with its customers.

"If it's an aberration for the customer then we can take portion and work out a payment plan for them on that portion that's above what they're used to paying," she said.

Power bills

For those on fixed incomes, the bigger bills are bad news, but NS Power spokesperson Bev Ware says it's always willing to discuss payment options with its customers. (CBC)

MacDonald welcomes that news, but says there's needs to be a better way to deal with similar situations in the future.

"It's not rocket science. We live in a cold climate and we can get some very difficult winters that may mean a difference in consumption patterns," she said. "But you adjust your business practices for that and you don't offload that onto your customers and expect they're going to be at home doing the math for you."

NSP says it's always looking for ways to improve service and once the situation is explained to people, they seem to be understanding.

Nova Scotia's Energy Minister Michel Samson is away from the office this week but a spokesperson says the higher power bills are something for the utility to comment on.