AMHERST – A mysterious power bill has caused confusion and some hardship for the local little league.
“Yes, I’m having a problem with (Nova Scotia Power),” said Art “Sonny” Foster, treasurer for the league, which plays out of two baseball diamonds behind the Amherst Fire Department. (Disclosure: The editor of this newspaper, Darrell Cole, is president of the league.)
Foster clarified it was the league having the problem: a power bill of $865.97 for the period between January and March. Last year’s bill for the same period was about $120, he said. Kilowatt-hour consumption last year was eight; this year it was 96.
The treasurer has no explanation for why so much power was apparently used. In fact, he suspects it wasn’t, and thinks some kind of computer error or misreading of the meter is to blame.
“We take these types of concerns very seriously,” said NSP spokesperson Neera Ritcey.
The power company arranged for a second reading, which they claimed confirmed the accuracy of the first reading. Ritcey pointed out that bills before and after the anomaly were in the correct range, which she felt lends credence to the meter working properly.
“We have done our due diligence,” she said.
Foster is baffled. He said even in the summer, when coolers and fridges are operating, the bill is typically $300 or $400. He said the clubhouse is shut during the winter: appliances are unplugged, and even the external outlets are disabled. The only drain on power should be some external lights. He said the building is checked daily for security breaches and it was snowed in.
“I don’t know how,” he said, when asked if it was possible someone had illegally hacked into the electrical feed.
The treasurer floated the idea the meter might have been struck by lightning or shorted out. Multiple calls to NSP to clear up the issue didn’t change the bill.
The league doesn’t charge players to participate. All leadership is offered on a volunteer basis. About 250 kids are participating this year. He called the bill “a lot of money” – money he said wouldn’t be available for the children.
Ritcey said NSP wants to work with the league. One option she mentioned was cutting power to the building completely for next winter.
The elevated bill stands. It’s been paid by the league. But Ritcey said NSP doesn’t want the monetary loss to impact the season.
“We will be reaching out to (the league),” she said.
The spokesperson didn’t release details of what would be offered, but hinted it could be a monetary donation.