Mystery of senior's ballooning hydro bill solved
An 81-year-old B.C. widow whose hydro bill nearly doubled inexplicably has had her mystery solved – and her story shows what BC Hydro is willing and able to do to resolve excessive bills.
Coquitlam resident Joan Esary says she has used less electricity since her husband passed, yet her bill has jumped nearly $100.
She insists that she no longer cooks, and only does laundry about once a week in her 720-square-foot mobile home – which is heated by gas.
She spent months trying to make sense of the increase and initially got little help from BC Hydro. "The man I spoke to said, ‘Live with it.'" Esary told CTV News.
The company offered to send an inspector to check, but said if her meter was working properly she would be charged a $90 fee she can't afford.
Instead, Esary called CTV Consumer Reporter Lynda Steele, who spoke to the utility company on her behalf.
Officials studied Joan's electricity usage, but could offer no easy answers. The company did agree to waive its inspection fee and check Joan's meter for free.
The company found that the meter was working properly. Then BC Hydro went a step further, sending a Power Smart expert to Esary's home to look around.
He soon discovered the source of her electricity woes: an underground leak in the mobile home park that was causing Esary's sump pump to work overtime.
BC Hydro also found that Esary qualifies for the Energy Conservation Assistance Program (ECAP), which will retrofit her home to cut electricity costs in the future. She's even getting a new energy-efficient fridge.
"It's been wonderful, a very great learning experience," Esary said. "I made the right choice: I got a hold of a gal named Lynda, and that made all the difference."
The ECAP program is available to low-income B.C. residents who have high electricity consumption. The retrofit includes things like draft proofing, insulation, even energy efficient refrigerators – all provided free of charge.
Anyone who thinks they may qualify can go to the BC Hydro website for more information.
Because the sump pump problem was not her fault, Esary is in line for some compensation from her mobile home park as well. She is negotiating nearly $200 to offset her high bills.
With a report from CTV Consumer Reporter Lynda Steele