Today we’re sharing some information from Fortis BC on their COVID-19 Customer Recovery Fund. This fund provides support options for residential and small businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19. Here are some eligibility and coverage details.    

What support is provided for residential customers?  

If you are a residential customer, you will have your bills automatically deferred, from April 1 to June 30, 2020.  

When you enter the program, you’ll work with Fortis BC to create an interest free repayment schedule. This repayment plan will be spread out over the next 12 months. 

What support is provided for small businesses?  

If you’re a small business owner in the program, there are two options available to you: 

  1. Receive support in the form of bill credits to help offset the charges on your account while you’re unable to operate your business. 
  2. Defer your bill payments from Apr 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020. Applying automatically enters you into a repayment plan that stretches over the next 12 months.  

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for both of the above supports. 

Eligibility:   

To be eligible, you must: 

  • Provide your FortisBC account number(s) confirming that you’re a residential or small business customer. 
  • Agree to enter into a payment arrangement for your deferred balance. 

For residential customers: 

  • Acknowledge loss of employment, livelihood or being forced to take a voluntary leave due to COVID-19. 

For small businesses: 

  • Acknowledge that you have had income loss or were forced to close due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the date of the business closure. 

How and when to apply:    

 
You can apply for this program between April 1,2020 and June 30, 2020. You will be eligible for the full three months of support regardless of when (within the period) you apply.  

To apply, you’ll need: 

  • Your personal and contact information 
  • Your account number (electric, gas, or both) 
  • The service address (residential or business) 

You can apply through two venues: 

  1. Complete the online application 
  2. Call: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.to 6 p.m.
    • For natural gas: 1-888-292-4104 
    • For electricity: 1-888-292-4105 

Once you’ve completed the application, there’s no need to follow up. You’ll receive a confirmation email and will be automatically enrolled in the program.  

What else to know:  

  • Right now, the repayment period is scheduled to begin in July 2020. However, Fortis BC states that they may extended the deferment period, if needed (which would, in turn, also extend the start of the repayment and recovery period). 
  • The repayment period doesn’t have to be a year. If a shorter or longer time frame is needed, they may be able to work with you to meet your needs. 

Other support options:   

If you don’t think you’re eligible for the COVID-19 Customer Recovery Fund, but you need help, Fortis BC still recommends that you contact them. They may have other support options.     

Similar supports are available to residential and small businesses with BC Hydro. You can find COVID-19 relief information on BC Hydro’s website and, you may find some of our blog posts on their resources helpful: 

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Look through all of our COVID-19 related information on our website.     

This is an evolving situation and information is changing all the time, so go to the source for updated information.   

Where do we fit in? Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.   
 
About Consumer Protection BC: We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.