Customer Crisis Fund
If you're a residential customer experiencing a temporary financial crisis, such as a loss of employment or benefit income, unanticipated medical expenses, or a death in the family and you've fallen behind on your BC Hydro bill, you may be eligible for a grant payment to avoid disconnection of your service.
About the Customer Crisis Fund (CCF)
The Customer Crisis Fund is a program that offers support for residential customers who are facing disconnection of their BC Hydro service, despite attempting to make payments.
You can apply for a grant towards an overdue balance (arrears) and the amount of the grant will vary depending on your amount owing. Maximum grants available are $600 for customers who heat their homes with electricity, and $500 for customers with non-electrically heated homes (e.g. natural gas heat).
To receive a grant from the Customer Crisis Fund, you need to meet a few criteria:
- You need to be the residential account holder.
- Only your primary residence is eligible.
- Your account must have overdue payments and be facing disconnection. Your current bill isn’t eligible for a CCF grant if it is not overdue or if there are credits on the account.
- You must have experienced a life event, within the last 12 months, that caused a temporary financial crisis.
- To apply for a grant, you need to have an outstanding balance of $1,000 or less, and should have demonstrated some attempt to make payments towards your bill.
- You may receive one CCF grant per account-holder annually (one per year). If a grant application is denied and your circumstances change, you can apply again in the same year.
The fastest way to have your application reviewed is to apply online, but you can also fill out and submit a paper application. Service BC locations across the province have copies of the paper application form [PDF, 126 KB].
If you choose to apply with a paper form, you have three options to submit your application:
- Bring it to your local Service BC location for customers outside the Lower Mainland. Find a location near you.
- Mail it in to PO Box 8910, Vancouver, B.C., V6B 4X3
- Fax the completed application to 604 909 4861.
If you need help filling out the online application form, you can get assistance over the phone from BC211 by calling 1 844 708 3208.
You can also visit a participating community service organization in your area for assistance with submitting an online application. Find a participating organization in your area [PDF, 68 KB] .
Other support available
The Customer Crisis Fund is just one way that customers with difficulty paying their bills can get assistance from BC Hydro. We offer flexible payment arrangements including installment plans for customers who need longer to pay their amount owing. Customers can make payment arrangements by calling our customer team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376). Other payment options such as our equal payment plans can help spread higher seasonal bill costs through the year.
About the program
Following a regulatory process that involved discussions with stakeholder groups representing our customers, BC Hydro was asked by the BC Utilities Commission to bring forward a crisis fund pilot program proposal. The BC Utilities Commission approved the crisis fund pilot after considering the views of a range of stakeholders and groups involved. The Customer Crisis Fund is an opportunity to provide our customers with better service and to help those in need. The three-year pilot will run until 2021.
Residential account holders will see a new line item on their BC Hydro bill starting June 1, 2018 - a charge of 0.82 cents or $0.0082 per day (approximately 25 cents per month) on residential accounts that will fund the program. Only residential customers pay the CCF charge on their bills, as only residential customers are eligible to apply.
The Customer Crisis Fund is currently a three-year pilot program running until 2021. We anticipate that it will collect approximately $5 million per year from residential customers – or 25 cents per month from each customer – to fund the program.
If the program continues after the pilot, any unused funds will be carried into the ongoing program. The $0.0082 charge for residential customers may also be adjusted if revenues collected are found to exceed grants and administration costs. If the program isn't continued after the current pilot, the BC Utilities Commission will assess how any unused funds should be directed. This will ensure our customers are only paying the actual cost of the program.
On July 31, 2019 BC Hydro submitted our report to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) with our findings from our review of the first-year of the Customer Crisis Fund pilot program. The BCUC has provided interim approval to reduce the Customer Crisis Fund rate rider to about 13 cents per month from 25 cents per month, effective October 1, 2019.
Eligibility, applications and processing
No, this program is available to all residential customers who are facing a temporary financial emergency, regardless of your family's income or whether you currently receive other forms of assistance. You may be required to demonstrate financial need to determine your eligibility for a grant, as you need to be having trouble paying your BC Hydro bills and facing disconnection to be eligible.
Only the main residential account holder can make an application to receive a grant for their primary residence.
If you're not the account holder (for example, a tenant who pays a landlord for the BC Hydro bill in the landlord's name), you aren't eligible to apply.
However, you can apply on behalf of another qualified account holder if you're acting as their authorized representative (e.g. assisting an elderly parent).
If your application is successful, we’ll apply a grant amount equal to your arrears (amount owing) directly to your BC Hydro account. The maximum you can receive is $600 (for electrically heated homes) or up to $500 (for non-electrically heated homes), but your total grant will depend on your amount owing. For example, if your arrears (overdue amount) is $375, you may be eligible for a grant of $375.
Typically, we’re able to evaluate a grant application with 21 days of it being received. You won't be disconnected while we review your application. Applying online is the fastest way to have your application reviewed.
No, if you have a pending CCF application, you won’t be disconnected while we evaluate your application. Once we receive your application, a hold will be placed on your account to prevent disconnection of your service while we process your application. Once a decision is made related to your CCF application, the hold on your account will be removed.
Applying online is the fastest way to have your application reviewed.
No, you’ll only receive a grant up to the amount of your arrears (amount owing). You’ll be eligible to apply for a grant again in 12 months.
You may apply to receive a grant once per year, i.e. 12 months from the claim date of your successful application from the previous year. For example, if you receive a grant in September 2018, you would be eligible to receive another grant in September 2019.
If your application was denied and your circumstances change, you may apply again within the same year.
If your application is approved, the grant amount will be applied directly to your BC Hydro account against your arrears (amount owing). You don't need to pay it back.
Please note that your application may be selected for a random audit where we request additional documentation. If you're selected for an audit and you're unable or unwilling to provide the necessary documentation, then the CCF grant may be reversed and the credit removed from your bill.
Customer Crisis Fund grants can't be used for security deposits. You'll receive your security deposit back after a year of on-time payments, so we can't offer a grant to cover it. There may be other options available to you instead of a security deposit such as a letter from another utility or having another customer act as a guarantor. Learn more.
Your equal payment plan adjustment may be considered as part of your CCF grant application. Receiving an unexpected annual adjustment from an equal payment plan doesn’t qualify as a crisis on its own, and will not be eligible for a CCF grant on its own. That’s because for equal payment plans, you'll see a summary of how much electricity you're using and how much you've paid on each bill, so your adjustment wouldn't be an unexpected expense. We also make adjustments to your payment amount at regular intervals if it doesn't match well with the amount of electricity you're using.
However, if you’re experiencing a temporary financial crisis for other reasons, the amount of your annual adjustment will be considered part of your total amount owing (arrears) and would be considered in evaluating your eligibility and a grant amount.
If you're facing a large annual adjustment from your plan, please contact our customer team to discuss other options to pay the amount owing, such as an installment plan.
Escalations and audit process
Yes, if you feel your CCF application was denied in error, contact our customer team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) to escalate your request and it will be reviewed by our escalation team.
An audit is a check that we do on a small number of successful grant applications, where we request documentation to verify information that was provided on the application form. The audit process helps to reduce fraudulent applications so that the program funding is available to the people who need it. Applications are selected for an audit through an anonymous, random process.
During the audit process, we may request documents that verify the information you provided on your application form such as a Notice of Assessment, a bank statement, or verification that you or an individual at the address are participating in an income or housing assistance program. The type of documentation that we request will depend on your specific situation.
Your application may be selected for a random audit anytime for 36 months (3 years) after you receive a grant. Please retain any documentation that you need to support your application for 36 months (3 years).
If you don’t wish to provide the requested information, we will need to reverse the grant amount. If you no longer have access to the documentation required, or it’s insufficient, we’ll discuss other options with you to verify your application.