BC Hydro has halted planned outages for residential areas across B.C. as COVID-19 keeps more people at home. (Photo via BC Hydro)

BC Hydro halts planned residential outages as COVID-19 keeps people at home

Utility company creates bill assistance program, crisis fund

BC Hydro has temporarily cancelled all non-emergency planned power outages for residential areas as the coronavirus outbreak leads to more people staying home.

On March 18, the utility company shared a province-wide update on the website explaining that BC Hydro recognizes that the ongoing COVID-19 situation is resulting in many customers spending more time at home for the foreseeable future and planned outages would be inconvenient.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus update: What’s happening right now in Canada

According to the BC Hydro website, planned outages are set for repairs, upgrades, maintenance, customer requests and adding new connections. Planned outages can be viewed on the online outage map.

The outages will be rescheduled at a later date and crews will continue to respond to unplanned outages as they happen and work to restore power quickly, explained BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk.

READ ALSO: BC Hydro to stop disconnections for those impacted by COVID-19

The hydro company also announced on March 13 that a COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program had been created to help customers experiencing financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

“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,” said BC Hydro president and CEO Chris O’Riley in a written statement.

READ ALSO: First responders adjust how they respond to emergencies in face of pandemic

He added that as some customers may receive higher utility bills due to more people working from home or self-isolating, the assistance program will allow them to rearrange or defer their payments.

Customers facing financial hardship due to job loss or illness may be eligible for the BC Hydro Customer Crisis Fund, which provides grants of up to $600 to help with electrical bills.

Those interested in the assistance program or the crisis fund can call 1-800-BCHYDRO (1-800-224-9376) or visit bchydro.com for more information.


@devonscarlett
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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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