Newmarket resident Aaron Thomas has paid about $130 a month for his home's gas since moving into the Stonehaven Avenue area in 2019.
But after a recent meter replacement, Thomas opened his Enbridge Gas bill to see a figure he could not understand: $4,492.16.
“You can imagine how shocked anybody would be,” he said. “Either I had a faulty or broken meter prior to, but that’s not my responsibility, that’s Enbridge. And when they made the exchange, they should have realized there was an issue.”
Thomas is now fighting the bill and plans to appeal it. He said that Enbridge has given him 30 days to arrange payment or his service could get cut off.
The higher charge is supposedly due to the meter not getting checked before, Thomas said, due to the pandemic. He said he was told by Enbridge that the previous monthly bills paid were more of an estimate and that he is now retroactively paying for previous usage not accounted for.
“I was never told it’s my responsibility to provide the numbers. If it was, I would have absolutely provided numbers," he said.
The bill shows a relatively stable use pattern, but with a sudden spike in February 2022. That month, the gas usage was 8,680 cubic metres, with the next highest total being 1,440 in March 2022.
“I intend to file complaints. I intend to reach out to whoever I have to,” Thomas said. “That amount, that’s crazy.”
Enbridge communications advisor Krista Luxton said there are circumstances “unique to this customer” that they are working on directly to address. She said they cannot disclose this without written consent from the customer.
But rates, in general, have risen for natural gas, she said, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increased global demand.
“The rates we charge customers for natural gas and gas transportation services are based on a forecast of the prices we expect to pay to buy these items from the market. Because the actual market costs can differ from our forecasts, adjustments are made quarterly to either refund or collect the difference so that you only pay the actual costs for these services and nothing more. These costs are passed on to customers without any markup,” she said.
There are also options to help customers pay the bills, Luxton said, including an emergency relief program.
But if this bill is making up for charges for the past 26 months since Thomas moved in, it would amount to an additional $170 per month on average, he said. He added that his neighbours all paid approximately what he paid for gas, around $130 per month.
The Ontario Energy Board has a complaint process to address companies it licenses. It is a process Thomas said he will follow through on.
He added that others could be affected if Enbridge replaces more meters now that pandemic measures have lifted.
“We live in a very good area. Where you’re spending in the area, you’re taking care of your property,” he said. “For that to happen … I don’t know what to do.”