Power bills go up, despite blackouts

James McLeod jmcleod@thetelegram.com
Published on January 16, 2014
Telegram file photo

If you thought that all the power outages meant that you’ll be a getting a bit of a break on your electricity bill this month, then you might be in for a nasty shock.

That’s what happened to Dan O’Rourke, who opened his bill to find that it had jumped by 56 per cent from the month before.

He thought it must be wrong, because he’d kept the thermostat steady, and tried to conserve power during the rolling blackouts. Just like nearly everyone else, he said he got hit with multiple blackouts in the past few weeks.

“This is nuts,” he said.

He called Newfoundland Power, but he was told that the number on the bill is what he had to pay.

“I spoke (to them) twice, and the two of them have got the same excuse: It’s cold out, and your Christmas lights are running up your light bill,” O’Rourke said.

He said when the utilities were asking people to conserve, he had one night light on in the bedroom because he uses a walker, and a light on in the living room, and that’s about it.

His neighbour in Pouch Cove, Pauline Lavoie, said her power bill jumped from $295 last month to $544 this month.

She said she wants answers from Newfoundland Power, too.

“I was expecting it to be more, but not that much,” she said. “We have two heat pumps in, right? And they say they’re supposed to be efficient.”

Newfoundland Power spokeswoman Michele Coughlan said the outages were a relatively small part of the past month, but the bitterly cold temperatures have a much bigger impact on power bills.

“Particularly with the rotating outages, you know, the power was off for an hour at a time,” she said. “It’s not going to have a big impact on your overall monthly bill.”

On the other hand, Coughlan said, the wind and the cold temperatures really cause houses on electric heat to draw a lot more juice from the system.

“When people are experiencing outages, obviously they’re not using energy. Really, the impact on the December bills that we’re seeing are resulting from that extremely cold temperatures,” she said. “We really, basically, had winter in December this year. You know, we had several early December storms.”

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

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