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Power bill mix-up leaves homeowners seeing red

CALGARY- A major mix-up at a new development has ended up costing homeowners.

Barry Roche and his wife moved into their Airdrie condo in March, and were shocked at how high their power bills were. They were paying nearly three times as much, despite living in a smaller place than their previous home.

“We pay, say, a hundred dollars in our single family home, and here in a condo we’re paying $300 dollars,” says Roche.

After months of complaining, a technician with Fortis finally came out to inspect the power supply, and discovered the meter was connected wrong. That means the Roches were being billed for another unit down the hall—which houses a family of seven.

“We were paying the wrong meter. There are four units in our complex, and everyone in these four units is paying the wrong meter,” Roche complains.

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The error has been happening for at least seven months, since everyone moved into the complex.

“We just want to apologize to these customers because of the inconvenience it has created because they’re out of pocket money,” says Jennifer MacGowan from Fortis Alberta. “We fully recognize that we need to make it right for our customers and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We have a power line technician dispatched today to go look at those meters, and make sure that he has got them correctly aligned with the customer that they belong to.”

She adds that Fortis is now investigating.

“We are digging deeper and investigating as to how that happened. It could be on a number of levels, sometimes it can be on the developer level in terms of how the construction is going, it could be labelled incorrectly from the get go, or it could have been human error.”

It turns out the problem is not that uncommon, and can happen in condo and townhouse complexes when meters are hooked up to the wrong units. Homeowners are warned to monitor their bills, and investigate if they think their usage is incorrect.

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