Courtney Bean realized she would be unpacking in the dark as she flipped a light switch in her new apartment.
Bean, an elementary education major from Highland, discovered a problem students have to deal with as they move in at the beginning of each semester. Many BYU students find themselves without power for 24–36 hours when they move in. For Bean, Provo Power was closed, so she had to wait more than 36 hours for electricity.
“I was too busy worrying about finals and moving in, so utilities were the last thing on my mind,” Bean said. “I basically had to spend the first day of school searching for places around campus to charge my phone.”
When turning on utilities, Provo residents have two options. They can call during Provo Power office hours and pay a $20 turn-on fee, which will result in their utilities being turned on sometime the next day. The second option is that they can call and pay a $75 fee to turn on their utilities sometime that same day. If they move in after Provo Power office hours, they must wait to schedule turning on their utilities until the next day.
Although having utilities turned on the same day is convenient, many college students cannot afford the $75 fee. This leaves them stuck dealing with the chaos of moving into a new apartment with no electricity.
Robbie Lamb, the utility billing manager at Provo Power, explained that the reason for the $75 charge for same-day power is due to the amount of scheduling that has to be done. Service men are scheduled each morning, so when students ask for a same-day power turn-on, it adds to their workload. Once the service men get to the house, the process to turn on the power takes an average of 10 minutes.
“A lot of students are fresh out of home and don’t have prior knowledge about costs,” Lamb said. “We are pretty in line with costs in the real world.”
Bean wasn’t the only student who spent her first nights in Provo in the dark. Mari Ebeling, a studio arts major from Philadelphia, also went a day without utilities. Ebeling moved into an apartment where some of the previous tenants were staying, but due to a miscommunication, their utilities turned off the weekend before classes started.
“I had to base my schedule on when the sun rises and sets because I didn’t have any way to see in my apartment at night,” Ebeling said. After moving into her apartment in the dark and having to throw away food that went bad because the refrigerator was off, Ebeling called for a change in Provo Power.
“They should have more inexpensive options for college students who urgently need their utilities turned on,” Ebeling said. “If they implemented a 24-hour hotline for people like me who move in over the weekend, I think college students wouldn’t have so much trouble with utilities.”
Lamb said the best way to avoid an expensive same-day turn-on fee is to talk to roommates in advance. If the utilities don’t have to be turned off and back on again in the first place, the cost is only $20.
Lams said, “Communicating between roommates, previous tenants and landlords saves money.”