NewsBC Hydro offering bill relief for some customers, businesses SHARE ON: Ashley Roberts, staff Wednesday, Apr. 1st, 2020 (Vista Radio stock photo)BC Hydro is giving a break to customers feeling the financial brunt of the COVID-19 crisis.If you’ve lost your job or are unable to work due to the pandemic, you’re eligible for a credit to help cover the cost of your bill. The credit will be three times your average monthly bill over the past year, and does not have to be repaid.It’s to help residential, small business, and industrial customers.The average residential customer’s bill is $159 per month, so 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.BC Hydro will implement the changes to its systems and websites for customers to access the new programs. You have until June 30th, to apply for relief.The 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.While these programs are for those who need it most, people or businesses having trouble paying their electricity bill can call BC Hydro’s customer service team at 1-800 224-9376 to discuss options to defer payments or arrange a flexible payment plan.Residential customersBC Hydro says it will implement “a streamlined application process,” asking for proof of job loss or inability to work due to COVID-19.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 businessBusinesses 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.That’s 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 having late payment fees under BC Hydro’s existing COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program.Industrial customersEligible industrial customers with accounts in BC Hydro’s Transmission Service rate category (rate schedules 1823 and 1828) will have the opportunity to defer 50 percent 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.They use large amounts of energy and represent about 25 percent of BC Hydro’s domestic electricity load in the province.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 per cent of their bill payments for the March 2020 to May 2020 billing period, or deferring up to 75 percent of their bill payments under the terms of BC Hydro’s Mining Customer Payment Program.