Charis Camp and Conference Centre, a nonprofit Christian camp nestled among the trees on Hack Brown Road, takes its name from the Greek word for "grace."
Charis Camp manager John Loosdracht says BC Hydro needs to take a cue from the Greeks- and the camp- and show some grace after mistakenly handing the facility a bill for more than $50,000 for four months of power.
Loosdracht opened his mail earlier this year to find a bill for more than $21,000 for two months of power on the camp's new building. That building, which will eventually be able to house around 50 campers, is still under construction and is not being used.
Previous bills had amounted to around $600. Loosdracht paid them, although he now suspects those bills were wrong, too. But the bill, for $21,074.64 was so obviously faulty that he did the obvious: he called BC Hydro.
"That bill is more than we pay on another seven buildings in a year," he told the Times. "That would be for an industrial complex."
Loosdracht says he was told that BC Hydro would send somebody to check the power meter (which, incidentally, is not a smart meter). They never did.
Loosdracht was also told that "the next meter reading should correct itself."
But two months later he received another bill. That one included money still owed from the previous unpaid bill, charges for the most recent two months, and interest accrued. It amounted to $51,363.72
When Loosdracht called Hydro again, he was told to have his own electrician take a look at his electrical meter. The bill, meanwhile, was to be passed on to a collections agency.
"I said, 'We might as well close the doors,'" Loosdracht said.
Loosdracht did bring in an electrician, who looked at the reading and said the camp shouldn't be paying any more than $150 a month-and probably not even that much.
"We need some grace," said Loosdracht after explaining the name of the camp. "These guys need to smarten up."
Loosdracht contacted both the Times and Global BC earlier this week. In the days since, BC Hydro has admitted there was a problem. It is also apologizing and promising to fix whatever is skewing its readings at Charis Camp.
"It's obviously a huge inconvenience for the customer and we're apologizing to the customer for the stress and inconvenience this has caused," said BC Hydro spokesperson Simi Heer.
She said the bill should have been flagged internally before it was sent to Charis Camp. Heer said BC Hydro is investigating why that didn't happen.
She also said BC Hydro should have done more to help Loosdracht after he called to complain about the bills.
"It should not have happened that way," she told the Times.