B.C. Hydro letting customers defer bill payments during COVID-19 pandemic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. Hydro letting customers defer bill payments during COVID-19 pandemic

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If people are harmed financially by COVID-19, B.C. Hydro is offering two ways to help keep their electricity flowing.

The COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program is open to eligible customers who may be suffering from financial hardship due to job loss, sickness or the loss of a family member, according to a B.C. Hydro media release.

They can arrange to defer payments or to have a flexible payment plan with no extra charges.

And there is a Customer Crisis Fund that can provide grants of up to $600 to help pay bills.

"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," B.C. Hydro president and CEO Chris O'Riley said in the release. "In addition, some customers may experience higher electricity bills due to increased consumption from spending more time at home."

The company is also taking steps to make sure it can continue to provide service in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

“B.C. Hydro is an essential service with many critical functions that must operate 24/7 in order to power the province,” a news release states. “Out of an abundance of caution, 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, it has temporarily closed its walk-in customer service desks and indefinitely suspended all non-essential business travel, public meetings and site tours.”

Customers are encouraged to call B.C. Hydro's customer team at 1-800-BCHYDRO (1-800-224-9376) to discuss bill payment options.

For those who buy their electricity from Fortis B.C., this statement has been posted to the utility's website: "We realize our customers are sometimes faced with factors beyond their control. As always, we encourage you to reach out and let us know if you are having difficulty with your bill so we can help find a solution."

Fortis B.C. can be reached at 1-866-436-7847.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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