Restaurant owner says electricity bill has doubled since B.C. Hydro installed smart meter
The co-owner of a restaurant is blaming recent utility bill spikes on the installation of a smart meter at the establishment she cofounded in 1983.
“It can only be one thing,” Maureen Loucks told the Straight by phone from the Mahle House Restaurant in rural Cedar, close to Nanaimo. “All other logical things have been checked out, you know, and we’re only open five days a week. Even our dishwasher is a low-temp dishwasher. We’re using gas, but electricity? There’s no reason for that [bill] to over double.”
According to Loucks, her most recent bimonthly bill was $1,084.56, and her bill for the period December 14, 2011, to February 13, 2012, was $1,192.67. But the bill before those two, for October 15 to December 13 of last year—during which time (on November 28) the smart meter was installed to replace the old analogue meter—was just $532.72.
Despite being furious at what she called “huge increases”, Loucks said she reluctantly paid the last two bills on May 9, fearing her power would be cut, adding that B.C. Hydro is “the only show in town”.
“I often think, ‘If we just went to the restaurant and we doubled our prices, we’d probably go out of business because nobody would come,’ ” Loucks said. “But with B.C. Hydro…”
B.C. Hydro media spokesperson Greg Alexis directed the Straight to Jim Nicholson, B.C. Hydro’s director of customer care. Nicholson did not respond to the Straight about Loucks’s concerns by deadline. As well, Rich Coleman, B.C.’s energy minister, did not respond to a message by deadline.
Loucks said she received a generic email response from B.C. Hydro’s customer care team on April 12, in which staff listed eight factors that could have contributed to the spike, including the winter season, additional machinery being installed, and human error.
“I have had everybody check out my system,” Loucks countered. “I have had Houle Electric in to see if there was anything that they could suggest. I’ve had our heat pump checked out, to make sure that nothing was malfunctioning. This was another thing that Hydro said: ‘Well, surely something is malfunctioning.’ Well, it’s not. That’s the whole thing. We’ve never, in the history of the Mahle House, had such huge bills.”
Loucks said business does roll along despite the smart meter–induced uncertainty, but these bill spikes eat away at the restaurant’s bottom line.
“I wonder if you could even find somebody whose meter reading has gone down with the smart meters,” she added. “I bet you can’t.”