If you own a small business that needed to close due to COVID-19 measures, you may be eligible to have your business' electricity use charges waived for up to three months.
To be eligible for the COVID-19 Relief Fund for small businesses:
- You need to be a business account holder and have had your account as of March 31, 2020
- Your account must be on the General Service (GS) (under 35 KW) rate, which includes rate schedules: 201 and 203 (exclusions apply, see below)
- You have closed your business, ceased most operations, and are not earning any revenue due to a government order
- You must upload information to demonstrate that your business is closed, such a photo of the business being closed, a screenshot of the closure message on your business’ website or social media channel, or a customer notification email or text message
If you have more than one eligible business account on the GS rate, you need to submit an application for each account.
The following GS rate accounts are not eligible:
- Government agencies or publicly funded organizations
- Public and private schools (including post-secondary)
- Stratas (commercial and residential common use areas)
- Outdoor/street lighting and telecom equipment
- Unmetered services
- Companies that have more than 10 General Service accounts
How to apply
The online application form for small businesses is now open. Applications can be submitted until June 30, 2020.
Electricity charges incurred from April 1, 2020 (or later if business opened after April 1) to either the close of your business date or to up to June 30, 2020 are eligible to be waived.
Applicants can sign-up for Customer|Connect to access their electrical utility account information, including balance.
Frequently Asked Questions
I am not the account holder but I pay the bill. Can I apply?
Only the individual(s) authorized to manage the CNW Electrical account on behalf of the business can apply to receive the waived charges. If you're not the account holder (for example, a tenant in a commercial building who pays a landlord for the CNW bill in the landlord's name), you aren't eligible to apply.
If your business' electricity use is separately metered, you can work with your landlord to apply to have your charges waived. But if your business' electricity use is included in an account that has other businesses or units (e.g. a mall), you are not eligible.
How often can I apply?
The Electrical Relief Program in response to Covid-19 is in place from April 1 to June 30, 2020 and you only need to apply once for each eligible account during that time period.
Am I eligible if I closed my business location but can carry on some operations remotely and continue to generate revenue?
The COVID-19 Relief Fund for small businesses is for customers who have closed their businesses due to COVID-19 and are not earning any revenue.
If your business location is closed to the public but you're able to carry on some operations remotely to generate revenue, such as offering remote services or delivery to your customers, you're not eligible for this program.
Am I eligible if my business is running with scaled-back operations? E.g. a sit-down restaurant now offering takeout only.
Unfortunately, you're not eligible for this program. If you have multiple locations with accounts on the SGS rate and one location closed and ceased operations while another did not, you should apply for the location that closed.
We understand that some businesses have scaled back their operations due to COVID-19 rather than closed, but are still financially impacted. If you've fallen behind on your Electrical bills, you can defer payments or arrange a flexible payment plan. To discuss bill payment options under this program, you can call us at 604-527-4555.
Can I apply for both the Electrical Relief Fund for small businesses and Electrical Relief Fund for residential customers?
If you meet the eligibility criteria for each program, you're able to apply for both.
How long does it take to process my application?
Until we have an expectation of application volume, 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 regarding your application.
How will you verify my eligibility?
If your business is not on the list of businesses ordered to close by a government order, we will be relying on the information you submitted to demonstrate that your business is closed. We will also be running verification checks such as comparing your electricity use before and after your close date to determine if there was a drop in electricity usage as we would expect with a business that closed.
Will I receive a cheque and do I need to pay it back?
If your application is approved, the eligible charges will be directly waived from your New Westminster Electrical account. This is not a payment deferment, so you don't need to pay for the waived charges at a later date.
How much of my charges can be waived?
Electricity charges incurred from April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020 are eligible to be waived, and the actual time period of waived charges per small business customer will depend on when the business temporarily closed. If a customer closes their account, the waived charges will stop as of the account closure date. The amount waived includes the Basic Charge, Energy Charge, and Rate Rider.
What if I have a balance owing after the eligible charges have been waived?
If you have a balance owning after the eligible charges are waived, you are still responsible to pay that amount.
My application was denied. What can I do?
If you believe that your Electrical Relief Program application was denied in error, contact us at 604-527-4555. We are available Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm from Monday to Friday, excluding statutory holidays.
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 the business was temporarily closed and ceased operations due to COVID-19. The audit process helps to reduce fraudulent applications so that the program funding is available to the businesses that need it. Applications can be selected for an audit through an anonymous, random process or where there has not been a decrease in electricity use.
During the audit process, we may request documents that verify your business was temporarily closed and ceased operations as a result of COVID-19. The type of documentation we request will depend on your specific situation.
Your application may be selected for a random audit any time for 12 months (1 year) after your charges are waived. 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 waived bill amount(s). If you no longer have access to the documentation required, or if it's insufficient, we'll discuss other options with you to verify your application.