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Saskatoon seniors in shock after getting massive power bill

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A retired Saskatoon couple says they're being forced to scale back Christmas after they received a bill from SaskPower for almost ten times more than usual.

Their monthly bills seldom run over $300, so seeing a bill for $2,991.32 was stressful for the couple, both in their late 70s and on a pension.

“Where am I going to get the money to pay this? It was such a shock,” Gayle Hersikorn told CTV News.

They’re on the equalized payment plan through SaskPower, which basically averages out power consumption and spreads it out throughout the year so bills are consistent.

They say a spike last winter during January to March could be the reason they now have to pay the massive increase, but it is still unclear.

“How can it jump like that in one month, compared to the last three months, I said how can this be. It doesn’t make sense. We’ve done nothing different and had nothing running,” she says.

“There are several reasons why a customer’s bill may fluctuate from month to month including an increase in usage, a customer on equalized payments receiving a ‘catch-up’ bill following a routine meter read, or an account going into arrears, to name a few,” a SaskPower spokesperson said in a statement to CTV News.

“Unexpectedly high bills are very uncommon for our customers, and whenever they happen, our customer care team works hard to lessen the impact to the customer.”

The couple hoped to speak to an actual person about the bill and drove into downtown Saskatoon to where they thought that could happen.

“That’s what we wanted was to ask someone, but you can’t ask nobody,” David Hersikorn said.

They learned that inquiries can only be done by phone. That left them even more frustrated because they felt a complete explanation was only possible if they took the bills in and showed someone who could then explain the reasoning to them.

Originally, they were told that they would have to pay the full amount within three months. They began figuring out how this could happen on their fixed incomes and considered selling their daughter’s car or even selling the home they’ve been in for 32 years at Sunset Estates, east of Saskatoon.

“This is the first time since we’ve been out here that we haven’t put Christmas lights up,” he said.

“It takes electricity to run them, and I think we might not even put up the tree. That takes electricity too,” Gayle said.

According to the couple, they’re scaling gifts back as well. This year they’ll direct their giving to SaskPower.

After CTV News ran the story on Tuesday, SaskPower contacted the Hersikorns and reduced the amount owing to $1,400. They were told they could actually take 18 months to pay, and it will be interest free.

“The lady said the amount should have been disbursed over the course of the year and not in one lump sum as it was,” Gayle Hersikorn said.

While that is better news, they still have to find the money somehow.

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