New Brunswick — NB Power is looking at a new pricing structure that will mean big cash savings for some customers and steep increases for others — all based on dumb luck. With costs to the utility mounting after the usual winter storms and general mismanagement of funds, they plan to use a random-number generator app to dole out a fixed monthly rate to customers that will not change regardless of power usage.
CEO Gaëtan Thomas will use the app — which is only on his phone, and no one else is allowed to touch his phone — to choose a random price for each customer that will turn up in their bill each month.
“This is gonna sound crazy, but we actually tossed around the idea of a ‘weather tax‘ where we’d charge people more to help us cover the costs surrounding winter storms,” confided Thomas. “And even a ‘holiday tax’ — since people use way more energy over the holidays and are more likely to get drunk and crash their cars into utility poles. Clearly these ideas were too ridiculous to run with…it was just spit-balling. This one, though, is even more fair than our current model.
“Think of it as a contest — people love contests!” he went on. “Try your luck at a reasonable rate! And won’t it be nice to know the amount you have to pay each month so you can plan ahead? No more unpleasant shock every time you open your bill.”
We asked whether customers will truly have a chance at very low costs — say, $10 per month. “Actually I’ve been trying this app, and, weirdly it only generates high-ish numbers. Or numbers that people have indicated to me are high. I’m a CEO, not an everyday peasant, so I’m not sure…does $700 seem like a lot for a month of our services? That’s only around the cost of compensating your butler or maintaining your Lamborghini. I would think people could afford that.”
Most customers are not too pleased about the new system.
“Ugh, I never win anything! Not Roll Up the Rim, not Chase the Ace, nothing at the VLTs — I’ve never even won concert tickets from a radio phone-in show!” cried Yolanda Smith, 49. “I can just tell I won’t win a good power rate either. I’ll probably be paying out the arse in July and I’ll have to cancel my summer vacation.”
Some, though, are already accepting their fate.
“I’m a gambling addict — most weekends you’ll find me at Casino New Brunswick and weekdays I’m at the horse races,” admitted Jack Nesbit of Moncton. “Now, logically I know this rate lottery is a terrible idea, but part of me can’t help but look forward to it for the rush. Come onnnnn…small money!!!”
Thomas plans to “calculate” everyone’s numbers by fall, to be announced winter 2018-19. “But the app is pretty slow so I might just kinda give up partway through and round up to $1,000 for most customers,” he said with a shrug.
“Not like there’s fuck all they can do about it.”