In the week following a power outage that left most of Golden in the dark for over 30 hours, some residents have noticed an uptick in their usual power usage after it was restored.
Joy Guyot, who has owned her home in Golden for five years, was the first to take to Facebook to state that this past week, she noticed that the power usage in her home almost doubled following the blackout.
“My wife and I check almost daily the usage because we’re very careful about how much power we use,” she explained.
“We have a wood stove, we have propane, we don’t use electric heat, but in the last five days it’s been almost double what we usually use.”
She says after making her Facebook post, she heard from others in town that they were experiencing a similar phenomenon.
A statement from BC Hydro explained that the surge in power usage could be attributed to the fact that some appliances may need extra power to get their temperatures back up in order to operate efficiently.
“Customers in Golden may have noticed an increase in their consumption immediately following the power outage on Dec. 9 and 10 as their appliances and heating systems turned back on and ran more often than usual to return to temperature,” read the statement.
“We also know that during the winter months, heating costs can rise up to 140 per cent, which leads to higher electricity bills. BC Hydro records the highest demand for electricity on weekday evenings when British Columbians come home, turn up the heat, switch on the lights, do laundry and make dinner. Residential electricity can increase, on average, by 88 per cent in the colder, darker, winter months.
“If customers have noticed an increase in their electricity consumption and want to learn more, we encourage them to call the contact centre at 1-800-BCHYDRO (1-800-224-9376).”
Guyot isn’t satisfied with the answer, saying that during the outages, she plugged in her appliances to a generator, meaning they would have remained operational and wouldn’t have had a chance to cool off.
She says that she called BC Hydro to complain and was told to bring in an electrician to check her panel. In turn, when an electrician attended, they couldn’t find anything wrong with her metre. In order to fully check out the metre, Guyot says she was told it would have to be sent away, and that she would be charged $185 if nothing wrong was found with it.
Guyot’s wife, Michelle Nagy-Deak, was told by BC Hydro that the metre was accurate and that the outage would not have done anything.
Guyot has reached out to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC), an independent regulatory agency of the Government of British Columbia, about the increase in usage, but was instructed to bring her complaints directly to BC Hydro and deal with them as the first point of contact.
“If your concerns are not resolved after receiving a response from a BC Hydro Customer Service Supervisor, we welcome you to come back to us and we will further assess whether your complaint is something we are able to assist you with,” wrote back the BC Ombudsmen.
“It aggravates me completely, it’s not right, they can do whatever they want and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Guyot.
“There’s no recourse even with the Commission, they’re just like deal with them and come to us after. I don’t want to wait till we get a bill, that’s why we stay on top of our power consumption, everyone I talk to who had a billing dispute with BC Hydro never got their money back.”
Guyot says that they will be following up with the electrician over the weekend after restarting their meter, and will continue to monitor to see if their power consumption goes down.
From there, she will be following up with BC Hydro and the BCUC.
She’s encouraging anyone who was affected by the outage to also monitor their usage and speak with BC Hydro if they have a similar problem.