TORONTO -- Stephen Taylor would rather continue living in his frozen house and face jail time than pay his "inflated and unfair" $14,532 Toronto Hydro bill.
It would be, after all, warmer inside a cell.
Needless to say, after 10 months without electricity in his bungalow, he has been in his own form of prison.
You can tell already this is a wild story of a self-described stubborn homeowner who says Toronto Hydro is "trying to make an example of me."
But, he says, he will "not back down because I did nothing wrong."
Toronto Hydro says he has done something wrong. And police charged him with a number of offences, including theft over $5,000 for allegedly stealing power.
In this case, hell has frozen over on Pandora Circle, in the east end.
This has been a cold winter for a lot of Toronto homeowners but nothing like Taylor's frigid abode of 14 years, which feels more like a dark tomb even in the middle of day.
It's so cold in his house there is no need to plug in the refrigerator or freezer. Everything in there is frozen.
If the pipes burst, the water would freeze quickly into a skating rink in his living room.
In his case, it's often actually warmer outside.
He admits it was strange to see a lot of his neighbours, during the power outage caused by the Christmas ice storm, go through the same experience he has been facing.
"I felt for them," he said. "But I understood."
The difference was, after a week their power was restored.
His was not.
The 61-year-old retired teacher's personal drama continues.
"It is a nightmare and I am suffering," he said in an interview. "All the plants have died, and I may be next. "
It all started last March when Toronto Hydro workers came to install a new "smart meter" in his basement.
"I had no problem with that," said Taylor. "But then a week later they came to me and said the old panel had run slow and that I owed them more than
$14,000 in back unpaid hydro."
He said he was "in shock" and "of course" refused to pay it.
"I remember somebody saying to me 'Have a good weekend' with a chuckle and then the next week Toronto Police came here and took me away in handcuffs."
He said he remembers hydro people "laughing" at him.
Saying he has no criminal record and "wouldn't even know how to tamper with the meter," Taylor said he thinks it was more about "payback" for not paying the money than it was that he did anything wrong.
Either way, he is vowing to fight his charges. He goes back to court in May.