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BC Hydro to charge extra fee for ‘crisis fund’ to help customers who can’t pay bill

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You may not have noticed it, but if you're a BC Hydro customer, you're now paying into a special 'crisis fund' to help people pay their bills in emergencies. Ted Chernecki explains – Jun 20, 2018

If you look closely at your BC Hydro bill, you’ll find a new charge that you may not be aware of.

As of June 1, the B.C. Utilities Commission is allowing BC Hydro to collect an extra fee to create a so-called “customer crisis fund” that will be used to help people who can’t pay their bill.

The fee works out to about $3 per year.

Those who have fallen behind on payments can get up to $600 a year free to help catch up.

WATCH: Utilities commission rejects BC Hydro request for no rate increase
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Utilities commission rejects BC Hydro request for no rate increase – Mar 1, 2018

“The crisis fund is basically available to customers that are in a financial crisis, things like job loss or health crisis,” Mora Scott of BC Hydro said.

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The goal is to raise around $5.3 million a year. However, a substantial amount will go to bureaucracy, at least in the fund’s first year. The start-up cost is $600,000 and annual administration costs are expected to be around $900,000 per year.

READ MORE: BC NDP trying to tackle rising rates at BC Hydro

The new fee comes at a time when BC Hydro could set a new mark for electricity usage.

The utility said the recent heat wave led to a province-wide spike in demand on Monday as customers relied on fans and air conditioners to stay cool.

— With files from Ted Chernecki

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