If you're a residential customer and you or your spouse/partner have stopped working due to COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive three months of credit on your Electrical bill. The credit amount is based on your average consumption and you will not need to pay it back.
To receive the credit, you need to apply for the program and be approved. If you’re approved, the credit will be automatically added to your account. The earlier you submit a complete application, the earlier the refund will be applied to your account (no later than mid-July).
To be eligible for the Electrical Relief Program for residential customers:
- You need to be a residential account holder and have had your account as of March 31, 2020
- Your account must be on a residential rate, which includes rate schedules: 101 and 103
- You need to be eligible for Employment Insurance, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers (when it becomes available)
- You or your spouse/partner have stopped working due to COVID-19 (see examples below)
- You must be able to upload a document that proves your eligibility (see examples below)
- Your average monthly electricity consumption must not exceed 2,500 kWh
Examples of circumstances where you've stopped working due to COVID-19 (applications or proof required for each of the examples noted below)
- You've been laid off
- You're still attached to your company but are without employment income
- You're unable to continue earning self-employment income
- You've stopped working because you're quarantined or sick with COVID-19
- You've stopped working to take care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19
- You've stopped working to care for your kids whose school or daycare has closed
Examples of documents that prove your eligibility
The document you upload as proof needs to indicate that COVID-19 is the reason you've stopped working.
This could be a letter of termination or layoff from your employer which indicates that the reason for the change in your employment status is due to COVID-19.
The document could also be one that demonstrates your approval for a program such as the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers (when it becomes available), Employment Insurance, or a supporting document for your Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) application such as your bank statement showing the CERB deposit.
What document can I use to prove that I'm eligible?
We know it can be challenging to show that you've stopped working due to COVID-19, which is why we're striving to be flexible in what we accept, while also ensuring the program is serving New Westminster Customers as intended.
As part of the application, you need to upload a document that proves you're eligible for the program. We are accepting the following documents as proof, as long as they clearly indicate that COVID-19 is the reason you've stopped working:
- Letter of termination or layoff from your employer which indicates that the reason for the change in your employment status is due to COVID-19
- Approval for Employment Insurance
- Approval for the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers (when it becomes available)
- Record of employment (view example [PDF, 128 KB]) or notice of termination
- Supporting document for your Canada Emergency Response Benefit approval, such as your bank statement showing the CERB deposit
If you were working in an industry that's been ordered to close by the Provincial Health Officer (e.g. personal service like a hair salon or a massage clinic), the document you upload could be proof that you were employed in that industry (e.g. pay stub, business card, letter from employer).
It may be necessary to combine more than one proof of eligibility document in the same file prior to uploading.
If you've stopped working in order to care for kids who are home due to school or daycare closure, please use one of the eligible documents above as your proof of eligibility (e.g. approval for Employment Insurance, CERB or B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers).
We may ask you to provide more information before applying a credit to your account. To avoid delays, please make sure the documentation clearly indicates your name or the name of your spouse/partner.
We will update our processes as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides more information.
Payment Plan Options
- Catch-up payment plans: If you can't pay the total amount owing, we can typically offer catch-up payment plans or flexible payment arrangements so that you can pay the overdue amount over time in a series of payments. Your bill will show the status of your catch-up payments and your regular billing amount, so that you'll know how much is due in your payment plan. To request a payment plan, call our customer team at 604-527-4555.
Other payment programs that can help
- Auto-pay automatic withdrawals: You can set up pre-authorized automatic withdrawals from your bank account or schedule payments through CNW to ensure you don't fall behind on CNW Electrical bills or your catch-up payment plan (refer to sample PAP application)
- Rent bank: borrow up to $500 to pay utility arrears during this pandemic. The New Westminster Rent Bank may be able to assist you. They can be reached at 604-526-2522 or https://purposesociety.org/events/categories/family-programs/rent-bank
How to apply
Our application form for residential customers is now open. Eligible customers can apply any time until June 30, 2020 to receive the credit.
There is a maximum of one electrical relief bill credit per household.
Applicants can sign-up for Customer|Connect to access their electrical utility account information, including balance.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Only the main residential account holder can apply to receive the bill credit. If you're not the account holder (for example, a tenant who pays a landlord for the electrical bill in the landlord's name), you aren't eligible to apply.
However, you can apply on behalf of another qualified account holder if you're acting as their authorized representative (e.g. assisting an elderly parent).
How often can I apply?
There is a maximum of one Electrical Relief Program bill credit per household.
I’m self-employed. Am I eligible?
Self-employed customers who aren't currently earning income due to COVID-19 are eligible. If you've applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), please take a photo of your bank statement, ensuring your name and the CERB deposit are included, and upload the document when you apply for our COVID-19 Relief Fund.
If you own or were employed by a business that was ordered to close by the Provincial Health Officer, please attach a copy of your business card or business license as proof of eligibility when you apply.
I am retired and get a pension. Am I eligible?
If you are retired and on a pension you would not be eligible to apply as you are not without income due to Covid-19.
I am a person with a disability and receive a disability cheque, am I eligible?
If you are in receipt of a disability cheque you would not be eligible to apply as you are not without income due to Covid-19.
How do I apply if I don’t have a computer?
If you are unable to apply online, the City will mail you an application.
Why do I have to be an account holder as of March 31, 2020 to qualify?
The Electrical Relief Program in response to Covid-19 was developed to support our existing customers during these challenging times. If you're a new electrical customer and have fallen behind on your electrical bills, there are a number of payment plan options available.
How is the bill credit amount calculated?
The bill credit will be equal to three times your average monthly electricity bill for the Basic Charge, Energy Charge and Rate Rider, using CNW residential electricity rates that came into effect Jan 1, 2020.
We will calculate the value of the Energy Charge using the average monthly electricity consumption between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020 for the account associated with the application. If you haven't been at your current residence for 12 months, the calculation may also include average consumption data for a similar type of dwelling in your region.
How much can I receive?
If your application is approved, the bill credit will be for equal to three times the average monthly electricity bill for your account.
How long does it take to process my application?
Until we have an expectation of application volumes, we don't have an accurate processing time. However, we will do our best to process applications quickly to get the relief out to those who need it. We'll contact you by email once we've made a decision or if we require any additional information. Applying online is the fastest way to have your application reviewed.
What if I have a balance owing after the bill credit has been applied?
If you have a balance owning after the bill credit is applied, that amount is still due.
Will I receive a cheque and do I need to pay it back?
If your application is approved, the amount will be applied directly to your New Westminster electrical account. You don't need to pay it back. Any credit remaining on your account will be automatically applied to your next electrical bill.
What happens to my credit if I move or close my account?
If you move, we will transfer the balance if you have another active account. If you terminate your service and don't open a new account, then any remaining credit that resulted from the grant will be returned to New Westminster Electrical Utility.
Do I need to treat the bill credit as income for tax purposes?
No, you aren't required to report the Electrical Relief bill credit as income on your T1 or T2 income tax return.
What if I haven't lost employment or am still working but am financially impacted due to the COVID-19 outbreak?
If you've fallen behind on your electrical bills, there are a number of payment plan options available to make things easier.
If you haven’t lost employment but have incurred expenses related to COVID-19 you may choose to participate in the flexible payment plan option.
My application was denied. What can I do?
If you believe that your Electrical Relief Program application was denied in error, contact us at Revenue and Collections staff at 604-527-4555. We're available Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
My application was selected for an audit. What does that mean?
An audit is a check that we do on a small number of successful applications, where we request documentation to verify information that was provided on the application form. The audit process helps to reduce fraudulent applications so that the program funding is available to the people who need it. Applications are selected for an audit through an anonymous, random process.
During the audit process, we may request documents that verify the information you provided on your application form such as a copy of an application for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or employment insurance benefits. The type of documentation that we request will depend on your specific situation.
Your application may be selected for a random audit anytime for 12 months (1 year) after you receive a grant. Please retain any documentation that you need to support your application for 12 months (1 year). If you don't wish to provide the requested information, we will need to reverse the grant amount. If you no longer have access to the documentation required, or it's insufficient, we'll discuss other options with you to verify your application.