FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A Blueberry River First Nations resident says she’s been continuously receiving unusually high bills from BC Hydro.

Nichole Dennis says she recently paid off a $7,000 bill from BC Hydro, only to receive a $1,600 bill from the utility company last week.

Dennis says she reached out to BC Hydro, who informed her that her residence uses over 7,000 kilowatts per day, which she says is inconsistent with the power consumption of nearby homes.

“They told us with the amount of power that our place is using, we should have a huge shop attached to our mobile trailer,” Dennis said.

She says BC Hydro told her that they would replace her meter, but Dennis says she hasn’t heard anything else.

In the meantime, Dennis has tried numerous ways to try and curb her residence’s power consumption, including power-saving lightbulbs.

“We tried [the bulbs] nothing’s changed, and if we don’t pay, we get cut off. We’re basically just stuck with these bills every month,” Dennis said.

She says the last time her power was cut off, she had to go without power for three days.

“I went without power for three days. I had a newborn then the band was finally able to help us. I sat at home for three days with no power with the newborn,” Dennis said.

Northern Community Relations Manager for BC Hydro, Bob Gammer, says while he can’t comment on Dennis’ specific issue due to privacy restrictions, he can advise residents on what they can do if they receive a high bill from the utility company.

Gammer says residents typically notice an increase in their Hydro bill going from fall into the winter. He says the first thing residents should do if they believe their bill is unusually high is check bills from 12 months previous to see how their usage compares to the previous winter.

He adds that behavioural or household changes can also cause an increase in electricity usage.

“We’ve just come through the holiday season when you’re doing a lot of entertaining or having people over. Those are days where you’re going to increase your electricity usage,” Gammer remarked.

“That could be reflected in your bill. If you’re say getting additional appliances or new appliances, new TV, maybe you have two fridges or deep freezes in your home now, that will use more electricity,” Gammer explained.

He encourages residents to set up their MyHydro account to monitor their usage.

“You can see how much electricity you use right down to every hour if you really wanted to. All that information is available. You can get a general sense of how your usage compares to other homes in your neighbourhood and also compare your usage to the outside temperature and see how that affects how much electricity you use,” Gammer said.

Gammer says residents should also check their homes for things that may be consuming power unnecessarily, only heat rooms that are in use if they’re on baseboard heat, or do a breaker test to see if there’s power consumption even if everything is shut off.

As a last resort, residents can even order a meter test to see if their meter is the source of the issue.

“[Residents should] be aware that testing a meter does come with a fairly significant charge, and usually you found the problem before you have to resort to something like that,” Gammer said.

For more information, visit BC Hydro’s website.

For Dennis, she is still waiting for BC Hydro to provide a solution to her unusually high bills.