CBC: Good Samaritans help to restore man's electricity

New Brunswick man's power cut off in 1999 over billing dispute

Good Samaritan donations are coming in from across the country to help restore power for a New Brunswick man after 13 years.

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Neil Lemon hasn’t had electricity in his Lower Durham home since April 1999, when NB Power cut off service during a highly publicized dispute over an outstanding bill.

He’s been heating his bungalow with wood and lugging water every day for washing and cooking.

Lemon has tried to reconnect the power himself several times over the years and once even climbed a utility pole in protest.

Philip Healy, of Campbellford, Ont., recently read about Lemon’s situation and decided to help.

“I'm formerly from New Brunswick and that affected me as one New Brunswicker to another,” said Healy, who is originally from St. Stephen and attended the University of New Brunswick.

He said no person should be living without electricity in this day and age, particularly in this climate.

Lemon is 57 years old, which struck a chord with Healy, who is only a few years older.

“[Lemon] mentioned the lack of dignity of living without power at that age, and I can't believe that the situation has lasted for this long. That should not be allowed to happen.”

Healy said he’s not a rich man, but he's in a position to help Lemon, who’s on a fixed income, before retiring next year.

“There was something in the article saying that the situation wasn't resolved and couldn't be resolved and I thought 'Well damn it all, yes it can be resolved, $3,000 will resolve it, so here it is.'”

Orville Sinnott, 74, of Edmonton, has also offered a $5,000 donation.

Lemon could not be reached for comment on Thursday, but has estimated it will take $5,000 to pay off his bills before NB Power turns on the electricity.

NB Power has declined to discuss Lemon’s case, citing privacy reasons. But the corporation is willing to work with people in Lemon’s situation to see them get reconnected, officials said.

Disconnected customers must first request to be reconnected, then the corporation determines what criteria need to be met before power is restored.

Fredericton's Anti-Poverty Organization is collecting all donations for Lemon and will hand them over to NB Power.