New Brunswick

NB Power cut service to family of 5 during snowstorm

A family of five, including an infant, stayed in a motel last week after they could not pay the power bill.

'They literally came up in the middle of a winter storm and shut the power off on me and my family'

The Brice family stayed at a motel after their power was disconnected. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

NB Power cut service to a Hanwell family during last week's snow storm after the family couldn't pay its bill.

Blake and Khayah  Brice have three children — a four-month-old boy, a two-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son.

Normally they live in a mini-home. But they moved into a motel last Wednesday to escape the cold.

The Brices originally owed NB Power about $2,200, but the utility company agreed for them to pay half to avoid disconnection.

Blake Brice couldn't make the agreed amount. He paid almost $500 last month, but owed $630.

He got a disconnection warning March 21, but he said he needed three more days until he got paid. Brice said NB Power didn't accept that.

Blake Brice received a disconnection warning on March 21, but said he needed three more days until he got paid. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

"They literally came up in the middle of a winter storm and shut the power off on me and my family," he said. "I did all I can do to give them that $500 so they wouldn't shut it off. … They didn't care."

Blake is a renovator and he said this winter has been slow. 

"I do what I can do to support my family," he said.

'Not pleasant at all'

He was at work last Wednesday, but Khayah was at home with the children.

She said she heard the power shut off around 9 a.m. and opened the window to speak to the technician. She told him she had a four-month-old baby, but she said the technician told her he didn't care.

Blake Brice recounts how NB Power shut off his family's power during snowstorm.

4 years ago
Duration 0:57
Power has been restored at the Brice home at no charge, but family members are still reeling over what the utility put them through.

"It was very cold. We actually had to put the jackets on to stay warm … until my husband got there. And it was [storming] when he came," she said.

"Thank God I had a water cooler so that I can make the baby bottles. Otherwise I would have been completely screwed. I had no phone."

Khayah said she felt worried.

"I'm a mother, it really was not pleasant at all," she said. "We needed one more day ... to pay them, but that was not good enough."

Power restored

The reconnection fee and total balance owed would have cost the family about $2,400, according to Blake. 

"It made me want to cry. This is reality. This can't be happening. You guys would really do this to a family?"

NB Power told CBC News Thursday they couldn't talk about specific cases. 

The family moved back into their home late last week after their power was restored at no charge. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

On Friday the family's power was restored at no charge. They have since moved back into their home.

Blake said living in the motel was hard, but their house was too cold without power. 

"My son, having ADHD, it's hard enough to keep him quiet, let alone trying to stay in a little tiny [motel] room where he's just running around like crazy."

Since 2006, NB Power has limited the number of disconnections between November and April in cases of economic hardship.

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