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Office of the Premier

Province supporting people with relief on power bills during COVID-19

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Office of the Premier

Province supporting people with relief on power bills during COVID-19

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Media Contacts
BC Hydro’s customer service team
1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224-9376)
For non-medical information relating to COVID-19:
Visit: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19
Email: servicebc@gov.bc.ca
Or call: 1 888 COVID-19
Jen Holmwood
Press Secretary
Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier
Jen.Holmwood@gov.bc.ca
250 818-4881
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
Media Relations
250 952-0628
Joint Information Centre
COVID Provincial Coordination Plan
embc.covidjic@gov.bc.ca
236 478-1336
(flickr.com)
Media Contacts
BC Hydro’s customer service team
1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224-9376)
For non-medical information relating to COVID-19:
Visit: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19
Email: servicebc@gov.bc.ca
Or call: 1 888 COVID-19
Jen Holmwood
Press Secretary
Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier
Jen.Holmwood@gov.bc.ca
250 818-4881
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
Media Relations
250 952-0628
Joint Information Centre
COVID Provincial Coordination Plan
embc.covidjic@gov.bc.ca
236 478-1336

Backgrounders

BC Hydro COVID-19 relief measures

The Government of B.C. has worked with BC Hydro to provide relief for residential, small business and industrial customers most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

BC Hydro is working with government and other organizations to simplify customer applications for relief.

While these programs are targeted for customer categories, as described below, to ensure help is going first to those who need it most, any individuals or businesses having difficulty paying their electricity bill are encouraged to call BC Hydro’s customer service team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224-9376) to discuss options to defer payments or arrange a flexible payment plan.

To ensure BC Hydro can provide emergency bill relief quickly and effectively government has issued a direction to the B.C. Utilities Commission to approve the programs.

BC Hydro will implement the changes to its systems and websites for customers to access the new programs. Customers will have until June 30, 2020, to apply for relief.

The relief measures will be in place for three months but will be re-evaluated prior to the program’s end date to determine effectiveness and ongoing need.

Residential customers:

Residential customers who have lost their jobs, or are unable to work as a result of COVID-19, will receive a bill credit of three times their average monthly bill. The credit does not need to be repaid.

BC Hydro will implement a streamlined application process, requiring customers to provide only proof of job loss or inability to work due to COVID-19.

Residential customers have until June 30, 2020, to apply for bill relief.

Some customers facing temporary financial hardship and possible disconnection of their service due to job loss, illness or loss of a family member may also be eligible for BC Hydro's existing Customer Crisis Fund, which provides access to grants of up to $600 to pay their bills.

Small business customers:

Businesses with accounts in BC Hydro’s Small General Service rate category that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months – for electricity used between April and June 2020, with no repayment required.

The Small General Service rate category captures customers that have an annual peak demand less than 35 kilowatts, typically stores, restaurants, tourism operations, the personal services sector and other small businesses.

Businesses with accounts in BC Hydro’s Medium and Large General Service rate categories will still be able to defer their electricity bills without incurring late payment fees under BC Hydro’s existing COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program.

Industrial customers:

Eligible industrial customers with accounts in BC Hydro’s Transmission Service rate category (rate schedules 1823 and 1828) will have the opportunity to defer 50% of their electricity bill payments for the March 2020 to May 2020 billing period.

B.C.’s major industries have accounts in BC Hydro’s Transmission rate category. These customers use large amounts of energy and represent about 25% of BC Hydro’s domestic electricity load in B.C.

Industrial customers will pay interest on deferred amounts with repayment to occur according to a prescribed plan that requires nine months of equal payments with the first payment due on Sept. 1, 2020.

Copper and coal mines will have the option of deferring 50% of their bill payments for the March 2020 to May 2020 billing period, or deferring up to 75% of their bill payments under the terms of BC Hydro’s Mining Customer Payment Program (MCPP) - whichever offers the greatest benefit. Repayment would commence according to a prescribed payment plan of nine months of equal payments with the first payment due on April 12, 2021.

  • The MCPP allows operating mines to defer up to 75% of their electricity bill payments when the market price of copper or coal drops below a certain threshold. The market price for both copper and coal was above the threshold in March 2020, but may drop below the threshold in April or May.
  • Major mines not currently part of the MCPP will be given the opportunity to join.

BC Hydro has committed to reducing the demand charge that makes up a portion of an industrial customer’s electricity bill.

  • The demand charge is based on an industrial customer’s single highest use of energy during a specified period of time and reflects the cost for BC Hydro to have the resources and capacity to serve a customer’s highest demand.
  • For the March 2020 to May 2020 billing period, the demand charge will be based on a customer’s average electricity use, rather than its highest use. Reducing the demand charge is expected to provide significant savings for each customer.

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