Non-payment disconnections in winter

We understand that sometimes it can be hard to pay your bills. To help everyone in B.C. stay warm this winter, we tested the practice of postponing non-payment disconnections for our residential customers when the weather was coldest. The test is now over. Disconnections for non-payment are no longer delayed.

If you have an outstanding balance as of April 1, 2017, please pay your bill in full or call us at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) to make payment arrangements. Otherwise, your account may be disconnected without further notice.

Here's how we handled disconnections this winter in different parts of B.C.

Lower Mainland & Vancouver Island

From November 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, customers weren't disconnected for non-payment if the forecasted daily average temperature for the next 24 hours was below 0 degrees Celsius. When it warmed up, customers were disconnected if they still hadn't paid their bill or made a payment arrangement with us.

Rest of B.C.

Customers living outside the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island weren't disconnected for non-payment between November 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017. If their bill wasn't paid, they continued to receive payment notices, late payment charges and could be assessed a security deposit. Disconnections for non-payment started again on April 1, 2017 if customers still hadn't paid their bill or made a payment arrangement with us.

Next steps

We tested the practice of postponing disconnections in the winter to see if it had overall benefits for all customers. When outstanding balances can't be collected, the uncollectable revenue and increased costs would eventually be reflected in the rates we charge.

We also wanted to see how the practice impacted customers with delayed disconnections. Their balances owing may have increased due to continued electricity usage and accumulated late payment charges. The outstanding balance has to be paid and could now be more difficult to manage.

We are reviewing these tradeoffs and results and will submit a report to the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) in the summer. At that time we'll also determine if we will continue the practice of delaying disconnections next winter.

Frequently asked questions

Keeping rates affordable and predictable benefits all of our customers. When customers don't pay their bills, we incur costs that are passed on to all customers by way of rate increases. When accounts are past due, we attempt to contact customers by mail, email or phone calls to pay the outstanding balance. However, if the outstanding balance is not paid in full or a payment arrangement is not made with us, we have no choice but to disconnect service to protect other customers from higher costs.

All residential customers were eligible. Disconnections were delayed, either based on temperature or for the entire winter, depending on where you live.

Business customers that were past due for non-payment and service locations that were vacant because no one had signed-up for electricity service (e.g. no BC Hydro account) were still disconnected.

No. If your unpaid balance is over $30, a late payment charge of 1.5% per month (19.56% per year) of your entire outstanding balance was still added to your account.

The Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island are typically warmer than the rest of B.C. and do not tend to have extended periods of colder weather that require increased electricity usage for heating.

For the purposes of the Winter Disconnection Moratorium Pilot, the Lower Mainland area covered Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, the North Shore (including Whistler and Pemberton) and Fraser Valley (including Chilliwack, and Hope). The Vancouver Island area included Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and Gulf Islands.

See a complete map [PDF, 651 KB].

Once the temperature reached 0 degrees Celsius and the average temperature was forecasted to be 0 degrees Celsius or above for the next 24 hours, your account was disconnected if the outstanding balance was not paid in full or you had not made a payment arrangement with us.

We wanted to ensure you were aware of the status of your account so that you can make informed decisions. Even though you may not have been disconnected for non-payment from November 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, your balance owing continued to accumulate, was still subject to late payment charges and could be charged a security deposit.

If the overdue balance hadn’t been paid by April 1, 2017 and you have not contacted us to make a payment arrangement, your account may be disconnected without further notice.