December 4, 2023

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Power bill hike another tough blow for Nova Scotians on fixed incomes

As if times weren’t tough enough on the pocketbook for Nova Scotians, along comes another blow.

Nova Scotia Power customers learned on Thursday their power bills will be rising significantly by the end of 2024. The numbers are seven per cent this year and another seven per cent in 2024.

“This increase is appalling,” said Denise Daley, the executive director of the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank in Halifax.

“We know people in HRM are already feeling the effects of inflation and that’s why we were hoping there wouldn’t be an increase.”

A power pole is shown against a cloudy sky
Nova Scotia Power customers will see their power rates rise by 14% by the end of 2024. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Thursday’s ruling by Nova Scotia’s Utility and Review Board to approve the hike means many power bills will increase by hundreds of dollars. Someone who spent $3,000 on their household electric bill in 2022 will be paying $420 more by the end of 2024.

“From our perspective this increase means Parker Street will have to put on more hats and apply for more grants and reach out for more funding,” said Daley. “We need to support as many families as possible.”

Daley said her organization offers financial support to help people with their electric bills.

Since the beginning of the year, the organization has seen an increase in the number of people looking for financial help and she expects that number to continue to rise with the price of electricity going up.

The rising cost of living has made finances increasingly harder to juggle, especially for low income earners and seniors who live on fixed incomes.

“Our team here is continuing to mobilize in order to get more community partnering to ensure we have the funds to support people,” said Daley. “We’ll be working even harder to add funds for emergency assistance.”

While people with low and fixed incomes will be most affected by the increase, it will also mean middle-income families will have to adjust their household budgets.

“I think it’s hard enough for people right now with groceries and everything else that’s going on, including rent,” Bonnie Dobbie said while walking on a Halifax street. “Rent is atrocious right now so how are people supposed to pay for that?”

With the electricity rate increase coming into play just as the coldest weather of the year is setting in, it means more people may have to use the services of food banks across the province.

“Food is another major issue with families facing the increase in grocery bills,” said Daley. “We’re also looking for funds in that department so there are issues across the board.”