B.C. extends deferral of electricity costs for industries impacted by COVID-19

TO further support B.C.’s mining, forestry and other industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of British Columbia and BC Hydro are extending the opportunity for companies to defer electricity bill payments for another three months.

“Thousands of people throughout our province rely on good, family-supporting jobs created by the mining sector, which continues to feel the impacts of lower demand for its products and depressed commodity prices due to COVID-19,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. on Saturday. “Our government continues to take action during these extraordinary times to help sustain industry, protect jobs and build a strong economic recovery.”

As part of the BC Hydro COVID-19 Relief Program announced on April 1, eligible industrial customers with accounts in BC Hydro’s Transmission Service rate category (rate schedules 1823 and 1828) were given the opportunity to defer 50% of their electricity bill payments for the March to May 2020 billing period.

To protect jobs in communities throughout B.C. and support a return to normal operations, BC Hydro will allow eligible industrial customers to continue to defer a portion of their bill payments for another three months, to the end of August 2020. The deferred amounts will be repaid over a future nine-month period and are subject to interest.

“Extending the deferral of BC Hydro payments builds on other measures – such as the deferral of stumpage fees – we’ve taken to address the specific COVID-19 related challenges industry has raised in our discussions,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Extending the deferral of BC Hydro payments may allow some companies to resume operations sooner rather than later when we get through the situation we’re in now, or it may keep others running without disruption.”

Major industries with accounts in BC Hydro’s transmission rate category use large amounts of energy and represent about 25% of BC Hydro’s domestic electricity load in British Columbia. The deferral program helps to retain load and revenues that, if lost, would also have a significant negative impact for all BC Hydro ratepayers.

The B.C. COVID-19 Action Plan dedicates $5 billion to support people, businesses and essential services. That includes $1.7 billion for investments in critical services, $1.8 billion in financial support for individuals and businesses, and $1.5 billion to plan for economic recovery.

Michael Goehring, President and CEO, Mining Association of British Columbia, said: “Mining supports more than 35,000 jobs in Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island, the Interior, southeast and northern B.C. Extending the opportunity to defer electricity payments for another three months will help keep the mining sector operating and British Columbians working through a time of volatile commodity prices and economic uncertainty.”

Susan Yurkovich, President and CEO, BC Council of Forest Industries, said: “Extending this deferral will provide some temporary relief to the significant financial challenges facing B.C.’s forest sector, impacting thousands of workers in communities across the province.”

Chris O’Riley, president and CEO, BC Hydro, added: “We recognize the vital role the resource sector plays in the province’s economy and are pleased to be able to offer temporary relief to our large industrial customers during this challenging time.”

Quick Facts:

* To date, 26 BC Hydro industrial customers have taken advantage of the new bill deferral opportunity – including mines, pulp mills, sawmills and pellet plants – deferring more than $25 million in electricity payments from March through May.

* In the mining sector alone, the opportunity to defer a portion of electricity bill payments has helped to keep more than 1,600 workers on the job.

For further details on BC Hydro’s response to COVID-19, visit: https://app.bchydro.com/accounts-billing/bill-payment/ways-to-pay/covid-19-relief-fund.html

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