Newest Man. Hydro customers seeing spike in charges

Above-normal temperatures lead to increased consumption from cooling load.

If you thought your bill from Manitoba Hydro was a tad on the high side this summer, you are definitely not alone.

Scorching temperatures across the province this summer have had homeowners turning up the air conditioning – and wreaking havoc with Manitoba Hydro’s billing program.

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Some Hydro customers have seen a spike in their bills, leading some to contact the energy provider to inquire why their bill was so much higher than the previous month.

The company explains how these higher than normal bills came to be.

“We’re seeing increased consumption for customers due to the cooling load right across the province,” said Scott Powell, Director of Corporate Communications for Manitoba Hydro. “Where we are really seeing those inordinately high bills are on new accounts, and customers who have less than eight actual meter readings with us over the last 24 months.

“The billing system looks at two things – the energy usage history and the number of degrees heating or cooling through reported temperatures. And if you don’t have an adequate billing history, the system will put more weight on the temperature changes,” he added.

However, there is no way to tell how many – or how few – people in the Brandon area were affected.

The long hot summer, perhaps the second warmest in 30 years, is a major driver of this issue, and Powell says it’s simply something they haven’t had to deal with in recent memory.

“It’s been such a warm summer – one or two degrees over average – that it has been just remarkable,” said Powell. “It’s almost outside the range of experience for the system.

“That’s why we’ve implemented a manual review of any bills over $400.”

Powell explains of you have a larger home and your bill is generally $300, a $400 bill could be due simply to increased power consumption.

“But if your bill is normally $150 to $200 (and it’s $400), that’s why we’re doing a manual review,” he said.

Powell says Manitoba Hydro knew something was amiss when they started to receive a larger than normal amount of inquiries from customers about larger than expected bills.

“That’s when we started to look at things,” he said. “You might have a glitch and have one or two, but when we started to get many more calls we looked into it.”

While Manitoba Hydro looks into their estimating program, they have some advice and instructions for customers who think they might be affected by a bill spike.

“If you think your estimated bill is way outside the realm of what it should be, take a meter reading and give us a call,” said Powell. “In cases where people have already paid their bill, that will be corrected and your account will be adjusted.

For instructions on taking a meter reading for Manitoba Hydro, you can visit www.hydro.mb.ca. To call in a meter reading or speak to an employee for more information, you can call 1-888-624-9376.

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