After a successful pilot last year, BC Hydro is reintroducing its Winter Payment Plan to help customers manage higher winter bills. The plan provides customers with the option to spread winter bill payments over a six-month period (the winter billing period runs from December 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018).
After a colder than usual December and the return of cold air to many regions from late January into early February, BC Hydro’s meteorologists are predicting that the next couple of months will likely continue to bring below average temperatures. Colder temperatures lead to higher electricity bills, and residential energy consumption increases, on average, by 88 per cent in the colder, darker months of late fall and winter.
“Cold temperatures across the province drive up electricity usage, resulting in higher BC Hydro bills that can be difficult for families to manage alongside other household expenses,” says Chris O’Riley, BC Hydro’s president and chief operating officer. “We want to provide customers with help to manage their payments.”
BC Hydro is also increasing funding for its low income conservation programs by $2.2 million, for a total of $10 million over the next three years. The low income programs provide eligible customers with energy savings kits, which include a number of simple, easy-to-install products such as energy-efficient LED light bulbs and weather stripping. More than 100,000 kits have been distributed since 2008, delivering more than $4 million in annual electricity cost savings to BC Hydro’s income-qualifying customers.
Another program is the Energy Conservation Assistance Program (in partnership with FortisBC), which provides free energy assessments and energy-saving products such as energy-efficient LED light bulbs, new ENERGY STAR refrigerators, and insulation upgrades. More than 13,000 customers have participated, including more than 3,600 homes in 90 Indigenous communities.
These programs combined have resulted in almost $4 million in annual electricity cost savings to BC Hydro’s low income customers. More than 20 per cent of BC Hydro’s residential customers are eligible for income qualified conservation assistance.
BC Hydro also offers existing payment options, conservation programs, and online tools that have helped hundreds of thousands of customers reduce their electricity use and save on their bill, including its Equal Payment Plan, which takes usage from the last 12 months and divides it into equal monthly payments, helping to make monthly budgeting easier.
Customers can also join Team Power Smart, start a Reduction Challenge, and commit to reducing their household’s electricity use by 10 per cent or more over the next 12 months. After 365 days, customers will receive a $50 reward if they are successful in meeting their goal.
To enroll in, or find out more about, any of these programs, call 1-800-BCHYDRO.