The cost of repairing damage caused by severe weather may be about to show up on power bills.

NB Power wants its 350,000 customers to pay two per cent more a year to use it. It may not seem like much, but any increase for some members of society is too much.

“People that are low wages, minimum wage or close to it, certainly people that are on social assistance and anybody that's on a pension, a fixed pension,” says Jean Claude Basque.

Standing alone, the increase might be palatable. But factor in other costs of living and there is cause for concern.

“Food is going up also, so some of these basic necessities that you can't do without are increasing and the income is not following,” says Basque.

In addition to the two per cent rate hike, the utility is also asking for permission to enact a surcharge following unexpected events like storms that damage equipment. They also want to install smart metres for all their customers at a cost of $122 million .

“Our initial investments in energy efficiency and cleaner, smarter technologies such as the advanced metering infrastructure, rather than in large capital investments to build more generating plants will help provide the flexibility we need to address a rapidly-changing future," NB Power chief financial officer Darren Murphy told CTV News in statement Wednesday.

Leonard LeBlanc, president of the New Brunswick Seniors Federation, says seniors are already making some tough choices on where to spend their money.

“Lots of seniors are now choosing between taking medication or paying their power bill or eating,” says LeBlanc.

NB Power's hearing with the EUB could last 12 days.

Any rate increases would take effect in April.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.