Rob Shaw: BC Hydro speeds up free air conditioner program

Rob Shaw: BC Hydro speeds up free air conditioner program

BC Hydro says it has ramped up the speed of its free air conditioner program, as the province battles with a heat wave.

The Crown power corporation, which has received $30 million from the provincial government to fund the initiative, says it is now processing applications and installing the devices in as few as four weeks, meaning applicants could still get an air conditioner by mid-August.

“We have made some important changes to the program to speed things up,” said Mora Scott, BC Hydro spokesperson.

“That includes simplifying the application process, we’ve added a significant number of installers to our roster to get them out faster, and we’ve also introduced a self-serve option — that doesn’t work for everybody, but anyone that is capable of installing it themselves, it will actually speed things up and get the unit into their homes faster.”

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As many as 30 to 40 per cent of the free units are being awarded under the self-install option, said Scott.

The B.C. government was urged to fund free air conditions for at-risk people, especially seniors, in the wake of the 2021 heat dome, which killed more than 619 people.

BC Hydro has already installed approximately 12,000 free air conditioning units, with another 3,500 applications pending, said Scott. That’s approximately 60 per cent of the 27,000 units that were earmarked under the funding.

The program requires either a note from a health authority home care program, or a person to qualify under the income eligibility cap. Details on the free air conditioner program are available on the BC Hydro website.

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