No horse flu, but power bill gives Howes a headache
By MARY MANN
MARGARET HOWES was flabbergasted when she opened her last Country Energy bill.
"Four hundred and forty-nine dollars!" she had exclaimed. "That's ridiculous!"
The bill, for a period of 82 days, was almost four times the amount of her usual bills.
Country Energy staff had not read her meter, saying they did not want to risk spreading the horse flu by going on to people's properties.
Instead, they had made an estimate based on previous electricity usage at the site.
But Ms Howes said the estimate was outrageous. She had only recently bought the property and said she had never used that much electricity.
"I looked at the bill and thought, 'that can't be right'," the Ballina councillor said.
"I only have one person using hot water for showers four days a week, and an electric BBQ four days a week for half an hour's cooking a day."
However, Country Energy spokesperson Mike Hely said bill estimates had been made for all rural and regional Country Energy customers in NSW.
"We are not trying to make life difficult for anyone, we are just trying to do what's best, and doing what we can to not spread equine flu," he said.
Mr Hely said the estimates were made from previous readings at each household.
Ms Howes' estimate was made from a previous tenant's usage history, because Ms Howes had not owned the property long enough to have her own usage history, he said.