British Columbia

B.C. announces 3-month relief on BC Hydro bills for some customers, small businesses

Premier John Horgan announced measures brought in by BC Hydro to address the economic impacts of COVID-19 — including a universal one per cent reduction in rates for all customers.

Premier also announces 1 per cent reduction in rates for all BC Hydro customers

Small businesses forced to close as a result of COVID-19 will have their April to June 2020 bills forgiven, Horgan announced on Wednesday. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday measures brought in by BC Hydro to address the economic impacts of COVID-19 — including a universal one per cent reduction in rates for all customers.

Residential customers who have lost jobs or had wages reduced as a result of COVID-19 will receive a credit worth three times their average monthly bill over the past year. It will not have to be repaid.

Small businesses forced to close as a result of COVID-19 will have their April to June 2020 bills forgiven.

BC Hydro will also give the option of a three-month deferment to large businesses.

Major industry partners, including pulp mills and mines, will be able to defer 50 per cent of their bill for three months.

Watch Premier John Horgan address economic anxieties:

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Small businesses will be able to apply starting the week of April 14. Customers have until June 30 to apply.

"These initiatives are in place for today, not for forever and we will be able to guide British Columbians as we get closer to bending that curve," said Horgan.

"We will do everything we can to support them."

$477 reduction for average out-of-work residential customer

Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Bruce Ralston said the rate reduction is the first rate decrease "in decades," and is not a result of COVID-19.

A written statement from the province said the average residential customer's bill is $159 per month, and the average credit provided will be $477. Some customers 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.

The average bill savings for small businesses who qualify will be $121 per month, so the average total bill savings would be $363.

BC Hydro has also halted all service disconnections for non-payment during COVID-19 and cancelled all non-emergency planned power outages affecting its customers.

Ralston said the cost of the programs targeted toward residential customers and small business will cost between $80 and 90 million.

Horgan said the BC Utilities Commission is in discussions with FortisBC — a private utility company that provides natural gas and electricity to B.C. residents — about what reductions they will be offering to customers, and that its program will likely mirror what is being done by BC Hydro.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

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