Nfld. & Labrador

NL Hydro billing error sends electric bills soaring on the coast of Labrador

Customers got bills that were double and triple — and in one case, nearly 20 times — the previous month's bill.

Customers get bills double, triple — and in one case, nearly 20 times — previous month's bill

Sybilla Bennett and Jim Tuttauk of Labrador both both saw huge jumps in their electric bills this month. NL Hydro says a billing error is to blame. (Submitted by Greg Taaffe)

Some NL Hydro customers on the coast of Labrador were shocked this month to receive bills double or triple — and in one case, nearly 20 times — their previous month's bill.

In January, Sybilla Bennett of Hopedale received a bill of $42.38. She got the surprise of her life to get a bill this month of about $800 — which she said would be difficult to afford.

"I can't keep paying this much after Christmas especially I mean, I already struggled since Christmas time, and as soon as I'm about to get back on my feet this $800 light bill is knocking me down again," she said.

Last month, Jim Tuttauk of Hopedale paid $34.33 for electricity. This month, his bill was $525.71 — a jump of more than $490 and 15 times his previous bill. The huge leap made no sense to him.

"It just don't make sense, especially how we use wood as primary heat. You would probably understand it more if you use it, say, on 25 or 30 degrees every day 24/7," he told CBC's Labrador Morning.

Billing error to blame

But NL Hydro says the high electricity bills were caused by a billing error on their part. In a statement released Friday, the utility said additional energy was added onto people's accounts due to delayed meter readings.

The company is issuing corrected bills to affected customers, and advised people who have questions to contact customer service at 1-888-737-1296.

Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans says the high cost of living is an important issue for people on the north coast of Labrador. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans, who has been looking into the issue, said heating costs are a sensitive issue because people on the north coast can't always afford to heat their houses even while burning wood.

"Not everybody has a snowmobile. Not everybody can actually go out and physically cut the wood, so people have to buy it, and it's really, really expensive," Evans said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Labrador Morning