BC Hydro says it has started the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program to help customers with their bills during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program lets BC Hydro customers defer bill payments or arrange for a flexible payment plan with no penalty.
“We recognize the financial impact COVID-19 may have on our customers due to changes in employment from workplaces closing, or reducing staffing levels and want to provide some relief during this challenging time,” Chris O’Riley, BC Hydro President and CEO, said.
“In addition, some customers may experience higher electricity bills due to increased consumption from spending more time at home.”
BC Hydro said customers facing possible disconnection of service due to job loss, illness or loss of a family member may also be eligible for BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund, which has grants of up to $600.
Customers are asked to call BC Hydro’s customer team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1-800-224-9376) to discuss bill payment options.
BC Hydro also said it is an essential service with many critical functions that must operate 24/7 in order to power the province.
Out of an abundance of caution during the coronavirus outbreak, it has isolated key areas, including its control centre. It has also increased cleaning at all facilities.
To reduce exposure and face-to-face interactions, BC Hydro has temporarily closed its walk-in customer service desks and indefinitely suspended all non-essential business travel, public meetings and site tours.
“BC Hydro continues to monitor the situation closely and will implement new measures as the situation progresses based on information and advice provided by health authorities,” the company said in a statement.
As of March 12, 2020, there are 53 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the province, including one death. B.C. health officials have advised against travel outside of Canada, including the U.S. and large gatherings of 250 people or more.
Most people diagnosed with COVID-19 experience mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority of those who contract the virus recover.