Ladysmith business shocked, angry over $18K Hydro bill

An $18,000 bill from BC Hydro has Cam McKinnon of Eagles Construction in Ladysmith fuming. "I’m being bullied by BC Hydro, essentially," he said. "It just blows my mind."

McKinnon first noticed there might be a problem with the bill in April of 2014, after he and his family decided to shutter the business for six months.

"We weren’t using any power at that point," he said.

When he continued to receive what he describes as "crazy" hydro bills, in spite of the business having temporarily ceased operations, he called the utility company to find out what was going on.

At that time, McKinnon said, an investigation discovered that Hydro was billing them for the wrong meter number (there are five meters in the building where the company has offices), and that their meter wasn’t working.

But it wasn’t until Dec. 12 that the malfunctioning meter was finally swapped out.

In the meantime, Eagles Construction started up again in the fall, and McKinnon continued to receive bills he was told were based on energy use estimates, a common practice used by Hydro to produce billing amounts.

The problem, McKinnon said, is he’s been told that because his meter wasn’t working until the swap in December, there’s no way to retrieve actual usage data for the period in question, almost nine months.

"It’s based on nothing," he said of the bills he’s refused to pay. "There’s no hard fact numbers. It’s very frustrating."

"I’m stuck with this bill based on a guess," he said.

Initially, the bill he was sent was $22,000, but Hydro had agreed to reduce it to the $18,000 figure, a move McKinnon said is still inadequate to address the problem.

After the Citizen contacted BC Hydro about the situation, the company has said they are actively investigating the issues and will be sending a meter technician to the site to determine which meter serves Eagles Construction.

In the meantime, the account has been locked so that no late fees or credit action will be applied until the matter is resolved.

"We appreciate their patience," Community Relations Manager Ted Olynyk in an email.