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BC Hydro launches program to help coronavirus-affected customers with their bills

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML

BC Hydro is implementing a program to help people pay their bills if they’re affected by the novel coronavirus.

The Crown corporation says British Columbians are facing a variety of financial pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as some workplaces close or reduce staffing levels.

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BC Hydro said it also expects increased power usage as more people stay home amid health officials’ requests that people take social distancing measures.

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Under the new program, customers will be able to defer bill payments or arrange a payment plan with no penalty.

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BC Hydro says some customers could also be eligible for grants of up to $600 under its Customer Crisis Fund, if facing power disconnection due to job loss, illness or loss of a family member.

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The company says it has taken precautions to keep power running by isolating key facilities, including its control centre, and by increasing its cleaning schedule.

It has also closed its walk-in customer service desks to reduce risk from face-to-face contact and suspended all non-essential business travel, public meetings and site tours.