News

Wildfire Evacuee Assistance Program now available

Photo from July 2017 wildfire shows a burned power pole and a charred landscape with smoky haze in the background
A glimpse of some of the wildfire damage near Cache Creek.

Bill credits, payment plans available to residential and commercial customers affected by wildfires

Updated August 22, 2017

Over the past few weeks, wildfires in the central and southern Interior regions have led to evacuations in several communities and have caused power outages to about 7,000 customers.

If your power is still out

Our system in affected areas has now been repaired and restored, except for areas where we’re waiting for clearance from local authorities before being able to restart power.

If you still don’t have power when you return, make sure your breaker is turned on and do a visual inspection around the property to see if there is any visible damage. You may need to call a qualified electrician to make repairs if there is any damage.

If your power is still out, you can call us at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) to report the outage.

Accessing bill credits and payment plans

It's a challenging and emotional time for our customers, and we want to ensure that we're supporting everyone as much as possible during the evacuation. When the safety of your family is at stake, nothing is more important – and we're working to ensure that your BC Hydro bill doesn't add to your concerns.

To help our customers, we've implemented a Wildfire Evacuee Assistance Program, offering bill credits and flexible payment plans to support residential and commercial customers affected by evacuation orders and alerts.

Automatic bill credits for residential or commercial customers under an evacuation order

We're working with local authorities to identify residential and commercial customers located in evacuation areas and will apply an automatic credit to their account for the electricity consumed during the period they are out of their home or business due to evacuation order.

You don’t need to call us to tell us about your evacuation. The credit will be automatically applied to your next bill. 

For residential customers whose property was unfortunately destroyed as a result of the wildfires, we will waive the electricity charges for the entire billing period, including for electricity use prior to the fire.

How the credit is calculated

We've used information and data from emergency officials to help us determine evacuation dates and evacuation regional borders. However, we understand the situation in affected communities was dynamic and that these details may have changed. If you think there is a discrepancy with your evacuation dates, or if you should have received a bill credit and didn’t, please contact our customer team at 1 800 224 9376.

The bill credits are based on the actual usage measured by your electricity meter during the evacuation duration. For most customers, electricity consumption would decrease during an evacuation order, compared to when the home is inhabited. For customers with no electric consumption during the evacuation period BC Hydro will issue a minimum $5 bill credit.

Questions about bill credits and email notifications: August 22 update

Some customers eligible for the Wildfire Evacuee Assistance Program may have received an email in the past few days stating they received a bill credit in error.

We wanted to offer some reassurance and clear up any confusion: We sent out an email on Monday August 21 about a separate, unrelated IT issue that affected some bill emails sent on Friday August 18 and Saturday August 19. The billing email error won't affect any credits for the Wildfire Evacuee program. Wildfire credits started to be issued last week and will be applied to the next bill as part of the regular billing cycle.

The emails referenced had an IT glitch and said credit where it should have said balance - these are unrelated to the wildfire assistance program and Wildfire Evacuee Assistance credits will still be applied for the customers that qualify. Eligible customers will receive a credit for their electricity use for the duration of the evacuation order in their area. If you have any questions about your bill, please give us a shout at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) and our customer team can help.  

Flexible payment arrangements available for customers under evacuation alerts

If you're preparing for a possible evacuation, we understand paying your bills may not be top of mind.

  • Customers who have been evacuated or placed on evacuation alert are able to defer bill payments to a later date.
  • We'll also waive late payment charges and can set up a flexible payment plan for any charges during this period.

Customers are encouraged to call our customer team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) for more information or to make arrangements for their account.

Returning home and food safety

We've received questions from communities and customers regarding the safety of food in fridges and freezers after possible power outages. Unfortunately, due to the extent of the damage to our infrastructure, we're unable to determine with absolute certainty if an individual customer's power was out, how long it was out for, or if a household experienced more than one outage. You may be able to determine if your home lost power by looking at clocks on kitchen appliances.

The health and safety of customers is paramount. We recommend customers refer to Health Canada guidelines when determining the safety of your food. Interior Health has also issued some guidelines regarding food safety for residents who are returning home. 

Determining whether you had an outage, and for how long

Not all areas under an evacuation order experienced power outages. If the digital clocks in your home aren’t blinking, then you likely didn’t have a power outage. We understand that there was no extended power outage in the City of Williams Lake.

Your insurance company may request additional information about power outages in support of your insurance claim. Consider supporting your claim with individual electricity-use data you have access to online through MyHydro.

If you already have a MyHydro account, you can log in to your account at bchydro.com and download your detailed consumption data. If you don't have a MyHydro account, it will only take a few minutes to sign up on bchydro.com.

Please note that, because some BC Hydro equipment may have been lost in the wildfires, electricity use data  may not be immediately available for all impacted customers. Also note that if your meter is manually read, data won't be available until we're able to read your meter. We appreciate your patience.  

If you're not able to get your electricity use data online, or if you have further questions, please call 1 800 BC HYDRO (1 800 224 9376).