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Archie Stewart launched an online petition the same week Nova Scotia Power announced it had applied to increase the price of electricity. (CBC)

The Nova Scotia man who started an online petition against the proposed power rate hike says he's overwhelmed with the public's response but disappointed the provincial government has ignored it.

Archie Stewart, of Port Hawkesbury, launched the petition the same week Nova Scotia Power announced it had applied to increase the price of electricity by three per cent in each of the next two years for its residential customers.

As of Tuesday evening, more than 24,000 people had signed Stewart's online petition.

"It's become an obsession with me," he told CBC News.

"I am surprised and elated, actually, as to what's happening."

Stewart said he wants the members of the Utility and Review Board — who will evaluate the utility's application — to know how Nova Scotians feel about the proposed increases. He's hoping the petition will have as many as 60,000 names on it by the time it's presented as evidence at the public hearing in September.

Despite the public's response, Stewart said the provincial government has all but ignored the public outcry.

"They want to stick their heads in the sand and pretend they're a bunch of ostriches," he said.

"When they haul their heads out of the sand, we're going to be standing there waiting for them and this time, we're going to have an axe in our hand."

Stewart said he plans to take some of the comments made on his online petition and present it to the Utility and Review Board.

"It is ridiculous for us people who have low incomes to have to pay for the high administrators' paycheques," wrote one person.

Another person wrote: "As an 89-year-old pensioner, my choice next winter will be to freeze or starve."

Paul Landriault, who lives in Stewart's Port Hawkesbury neighbourhood, said everyone should have to bear the cost of tough times — including Nova Scotia Power's shareholders.

"We already pay our share of increased fuel costs and the results of the bad economy and high oil prices," he told CBC News.

"Their shareholders should have to take a loss when that happens to them, they shouldn't be able to pass it on to the consumer."