This week let’s discuss two vital services
that Guysborough County residents rely on, electricity and telephone.
Although our service
maintenance, often under difficult conditions, is greatly appreciated, my beef concerns corporate policy and direction, NOT
the commendable efforts of our faithful local technicians, the few of those that remain on duty for us.
We are all too aware of NS Power’s role in the NewPage and Bowater troubles that have put many Nova Scotians on
EI. This column deals with residential service issues, but the culprit is the same, as we’ll see.
Most rural Guysborough County households receive far less reliable electrical service from NS Power than our neighbours
in Pictou and Antigonish Counties. In fact, most residents find that service has degraded seriously over the past two decades.
Less than a decade ago, in the wake of hurricane Juan, I recall the few gasoline generators in our community being shared
by neighbours to maintain frozen food in their freezers.
Today most of our neighbours
have purchased their own generators and installation hook-ups that provide a backup power supply during frequent and lengthy
power failures. These failures certainly can pose serious expense, health and safety issues for our residents, making backup
power systems no longer a luxury here.
Yet we still pay the
same rate as those who receive much better service, and furthermore we’ve just been hit by another substantial rate
increase. Does this seem fair?
I have another beef with NS Power, this one regarding wind farm development opportunities. There are several
wind power generation projects in eastern NS, but none in the District of St. Mary’s, even though it has suitable locations.
Why not? Because, I’m told by reliable sources, NS Power’s transmission “infrastructure” in St. Mary’s
Although both municipal Districts in Guysborough County investigated or pursued the available government
incentives to develop small wind farms, only the District of Guysborough’s proposal was deemed viable. While St. Mary’s
badly needs economic stimulus we are denied the opportunity to produce green wind energy by NS Power. Doesn’t St. Mary’s
Now for Bell Aliant. After being a telephone customer of MT&T for 45 years we decided to switch our internet,
long-distance, payment processing and mobile services to other providers. Last year, despite no service modification or usage,
our monthly Aliant bill crept steadily upward from $80.57 to $96.39, a 20% increase in 12 months! I’m hearing others
complain as well, so it’s not just us.
We’ve kept Aliant’s basic landline
service (about $30 + HST) because of business considerations. We need it to maintain a reliable security system and because
we want to keep our Aliant telephone # and directory service. That’s all, and I look forward to the day that I can bid
Bell Aliant farewell.
Other providers claim that we can switch to their service and keep our Aliant phone #, but we discovered
that this is not the case in Stillwater because Aliant won’t permit that in some areas of Nova Scotia. In Antigonish
or New Glasgow we’d have no problem, but not here. Same rates less service; sound familiar? Another “infrastructure”
There’s a host of internet-based services eagerly waiting for your telephone business. They are full-featured
and cheap. For the technically inclined, this is called VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). Frills like 911 support, call-display,
message centre, and free long-distance calling for North America are all there. Two popular examples are MagicJack and Vonage,
and there are many others. If you check them out you’ll find that web services can provide great value.
Nothing’s perfect though, and that includes VOIP. Be aware that you may lose your Aliant phone#, directory
listing, and the reliability of your security system. Plus, since these services are web-based, no internet or no power means
no telephone, including 911 services. But that’s where a mobile phone comes to the rescue.
A charged-up cell phone can continue to provide telephone and internet services during the many power failures we endure.
There are cell phone plans that include features like free North American long-distance, message centre, text messaging and
call display. It is also possible to seamlessly use a mobile phone to access the long-distance services of your web-based
telephone service via a toll-free #.
A growing number of households are dropping landline
services entirely and doing everything by mobile phone. For some, that’s a great solution, but for our business mobile
phones currently provide only part of the solution. By making the improvements we did, we may not actually save on combined
monthly fees, but, more importantly, we are getting a lot better value for our money.
My message to Bell Aliant and NS Power; your customers don’t like it, and your corporate greed
may eventually be your undoing. At the speed that new technology is developing and being accepted by your customers, that
may happen sooner than later.
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