If Islanders decide not to pay the HST portion of their electricity bill it could lead to the company limiting their power use or cutting it off altogether, says a spokeswoman for the company.
Maritime Electric representative Kim Griffin said Maritime Electric will have to remit the HST to the government even if people decide not to pay that portion of their bill.
“If a customer doesn’t pay this tax, we still have to pay it,” she said.
In a recent letter to the editor, an Island couple discussed their plans to withhold the HST portion of their electric bills once the new tax comes into effect next month.
Bob and Gaye Baird said they viewed it as an act of civil disobedience and called the addition of HST to electricity bills an unfair, biased policy.
The couple wrote that they purposely switched to electric heat before the government announced plans to bring in the HST and hoped the government would remove the exemption from heating oil.
Griffin said if a customer doesn’t pay their bill in full, Maritime Electric will work with them to recover whatever is owing, which sometimes involves special payment plans.
“We generally work with our customers very closely if they’re in need of working at paying their bill,” she said.
But in a case where a customer said they wouldn’t pay the HST portion of the bill, Griffin said interest would be applied and the account would get flagged after being late for one month.
Griffin said Maritime Electric could eventually disconnect the customer or install a load limiter on their metre, which would give them just enough power to operate a few basic necessities.
The company hopes its customers will pay their bills in full once the new tax comes into effect because Maritime Electric will still have to pay the government the HST portion of every bill, Griffin said.
“It’s not like Maritime Electric can hold back that amount.”
Griffin said it would also mean that other customers end up paying for it if someone doesn’t pay their bill.
“Costs that are incurred are spread across all customers,” she said.
If the Bairds decide not to pay, Maritime Electric will treat them the same as any other customer that doesn’t pay their bill, Griffin said.