The number of Manitobans falling behind on their hydro bills is growing fast.
According to Manitoba Hydro, arrears have spiked over the last couple of months, jumping from roughly 78,000 customers to 80,000 customers — a three per cent increase in cases.
“Well, we’ve seen in total arrears and this includes not just residential but also commercial accounts,” Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Scott Powell told 680 CJOB Friday afternoon.
“The total increase is around $5 million in that arrears figure.”
Hydro says they offer a number of financial support programs for when money is a little tight.
“We have our customer arrears assistance plan, that we can work with customers to provide one easy to manage monthly payment,” said Powell.
“Basically, we get them current on their monthly bills and then set up a payment plan on the outstanding balance, and we ask people to to give us a call to set that up.
“The other thing that we encourage all customers to do is really look at getting involved in our equal payment program, and that’s where we take your energy costs on both your gas and electric side and they get averaged out.”
According to Powell, cutting off someone’s power is the last resort.
“We have a self-imposed moratorium. We’re not disconnecting people from the fall through to around mid-April,” he said. “It’s a life and death situation if you have electric heat.”
Hydro encourages clients to reach out to Hydro as soon as there’s a financial issue.
“The best thing people can do if they’re having payment issues or having trouble making their bills is reach out to us, either online, give us a call or email our credit department,” Powell said.
“The worst thing you can do is is just ignore it and hope it goes away.”