By Fran Yanor,” Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

[email protected]

If you’re out of work or your business is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a bit of relief coming your way.

“We know that people are losing their jobs, shuttering their stores and restaurants, and in some cases, maybe on the brink of curtailing operations at mines, mills and plants,” said Premier

John Horgan today, announcing a package to “reduce costs for people right now.”

For people who have lost wages, been laid-off, or are home to look after children who can’t attend school, BC Hydro will offer a three month credit on their power bill, “so you can focus on the things that matter to you most,” said Horgan.

Because the credit is an average over the whole year, it may cover more than three spring months, Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, said, working out to an average of about $477 in savings per customer. The credit doesn’t have to be repaid.

For small businesses which have been forced to close because of COVID-19, their electricity use from April through June will be covered. “When the crisis passes, you’ll be in a better position to start right away,” said Horgan.

Customers may also be eligible for BC Hydro’s existing Customer Crisis Fund, which provides grants of up to $600 for qualifying people facing temporary financial hardship.

Customers also have the option to defer payments or arrange a flexible payment plan with no penalty to help pay their BC Hydro bills.

To help with cash flow, large industrial customers can choose to defer 50 per cent of their Hydro payments for the next three months. The deferment will facilitate the continued operation of mines and other industrial projects as long as they abide by the Provincial Health Officer’s orders and the guidelines developed with the Workers Compensation Board.

“We are working with BC Hydro to make sure there’s a simple and streamlined process for customers to apply for relief,” said Ralston.

Customers have until June 30 to apply. Applications for residential customers are slated to open this week, and for business customers next week. Check the BC Hydro website here for details:

Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Bruce Ralston in Vancouver announcing the latest BC Hydro relief measures for residential, small business, and industrial customers hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. //Province of BC