Food banks denied break on power bills

SAINT JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK - Food banks in Saint John won't be getting a break on power rates this winter from Saint John Energy.

Saint John Common Council had requested a subsidy or discount on power rates for food banks in the city, but the utility says it doesn't have the money.

That's disappointing news for food banks that rely on donations to survive.

Carolyn Danells, chairwoman of the Saint John Community Food Basket's board of directors, said they were hoping for extra help.

"We would like very much to see our electrical bill cut down some for us in some way because the less we have to pay in bills, the more we have to buy the essential foods that people need that are relying on us," she said.

The power bill last month at the Saint John Community Food Basket was over $700 — a lot of money for a non-profit organization, Danells said.

Eric Marr, president of Saint John Energy, said the utility can't afford a discount across the board for food banks without driving up power rates for other customers.

"It would be an impact on the rest of our customers in order to provide free power or subsidized power to those customers," he said.

Marr said charitable organizations are already given the lowest rate possible. They are classified as residential customers, which means they are given 25 per cent-benefit.

"We also offer them various energy savings or energy conservation-type advice," he said.

Non-profit groups should confirm their charitable status with Saint John Energy to make sure they're already getting the best rate, Marr said.



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