Pensioner billed $109,000 for connection to power grid

County Londonderry, Northern Ireland – A 74 year old man who has lived without electricity for 27 years has been told by the local utility company they plan to bill him £67,000 ($109,000) to hook his home into the grid.

John McCarter has no central heating at his home and uses bottled gas and candles for light. The electricity company said the high cost was because he lives in an area of special scientific interest.

Mr McCarter told the BBC: “When I wake in the morning, if it’s a good morning the thermometer on the wall will read two degrees. If it’s a bad morning, it’ll be below zero.”

His cliff-top house has been without electricity since it was built, but McCarter said he stayed in the house because he likes the cliffs and the beach, but three years ago he decided to see about getting electricity.

“It’s not as if I’m living in the sticks,” he added, pointing out that the property is on the main A2 road.

“I had to draw up plans of the house myself, and send all the information to Northern Ireland Electricity. They then came back to me and said it would cost £67,000. I’m on just over £100 ($162) a week with my pension, and I have to keep coal in two fires and feed myself, so there isn’t much left over.”

A spokesman for the utility company said the large bill was due to the need for underground cables to be used due to the man living in a site of special scientific interest: “In this instance Mr McCarter lives near an Area of Special Scientific Interest and NIE is restricted in the type of network which can be built. We would have to lay an underground cable to provide a connection and these are the costs associated with this length of undergrounding.”