Supporting British Columbia during the COVID-19 outbreak

As a critical infrastructure service provider, we’ve taken the necessary steps to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our customers and employees and their communities, while continuing to deliver the energy you rely on every day. Here’s what we’re doing to ensure you continue to receive the energy you depend on. 

We’re here for you

We understand the uncertainty you may be experiencing about the COVID-19 virus and how it impacts your daily life. We’re here to answer your questions and assist you with billing, payments and other energy-related services. 

  • Billing and payment: we’ve waived late payment fees and will ensure no customer is disconnected from the energy they need due to financial hardship at this time. Our team is ready to help you with any billing questions you have and can help find flexible payment options that work for you.
  • Contact us: call us at 1-866-436-7847 for electricity or 1-888-224-2710 for natural gas, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Or you can email us and access your Account Online. For our large commercial and industrial customers please contact your key account manager to discuss payment arrangements.
  • Learn more about the billing support we can offer at this time

We believe that our current approach provides an appropriate balance of providing support to those who need it most against the impacts on all of our customers. We’re examining all options of how we can further help our customers. We’re always very cautious when making choices that could have longer-term rate impacts for our whole customer base. At the end of the day, a bill credit that is paid for through future rates is just a deferral that impacts every customer.

Monitoring our system

There are currently no impacts to our natural gas and electricity operations. As always, we’re monitoring our network and systems very closely 24/7. We’ve enacted a comprehensive emergency response and pandemic plan to maintain critical services to BC in the event of widespread illness. This includes service to your homes and businesses, as well as other essential service providers including hospitals, police and fire departments, care homes, grocery stores and pharmacies.

Preventing the spread of COVID-19

At this time, we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at FortisBC. However, as we employ more than 2,400 British Columbians, we take our commitment to our employees and community seriously. We need to do our part to stop the spread of the virus.

  • We’ve adopted all current practices recommended by federal and provincial health officials such as:
    • encouraging frequent hand washing
    • adopting enhanced sanitization routines in our offices and facilities
    • supporting self-isolation measures
    • adopting physical distancing and prohibiting large group gatherings and visitors to our sites
    • restricting all non-essential business and personal travel
    • ensuring employees work from home where operationally possible
  • We’re asking employees to stay home if they are showing any symptoms and to seek medical care if those symptoms progress. We’re also partnering with TELUS Health to offer our employees access to a virtual healthcare solution to help alleviate any additional strain on BC’s health care system.
  • Our field staff are following all hygiene protocols and physical distancing.
  • To reduce risk to our employees, customers and their communities, we’ve stopped all planned work that would require an employee to enter a customer’s home, including planned meter exchanges. In an emergency where we must enter a customer’s home, our employee will wear personal protection equipment including overalls, respiratory, eye and hand protection.
  • To prevent potential community spread of the virus, we’ve cancelled our participation at community events and closed our walk-in customer service desks in Prince George, Trail and Kelowna. If you’ve registered for an event with FortisBC, you’ll receive additional notice about any cancellations. 

Answering your questions

We’ve provided a list of FAQs to assist in answering some of your most frequent questions. We’ll continue to update these as needed or as new information becomes available. 

We have a web page on fortisbc.com/covid19 dedicated to our response to COVID-19 that is regularly updated. You can also call our customer contact centre at 1-866-436-7847 for electricity or 1-888-224-2710 for gas for any specific questions you may have. 

We also encourage you to follow us on Twitter or Facebook at the handle @FortisBC to stay up-to-date. We’ll share any new developments there as well as through our website.

Physical and social distancing both refer to actions that you can take to minimize close contact with others, and are deemed crucial by health authorities is minimizing the spread of COVID-19. These actions include, but are not limited to:

  • avoiding crowded places and non-essential gatherings
  • avoiding common greetings such as handshakes
  • limiting contact with people at higher risk (eg. older adults and those in poor health)
  • keeping a distance of at least two arms lengths (approximately 2 metres) from others.

More information is available on the Government of Canada website.

During this time, providing energy is a critical infrastructure service and we will continue to ensure British Columbians receive the natural gas, electricity and propane they need safely and reliably. 

We need to deliver energy to not just residences, but other services that British Columbians rely on such as hospitals, first responder agencies, care homes, pharmacies and grocery stores.

Employees who are able to work from home are doing so. Of our 2,400 employees we have over 1,100 employees now working from home throughout the province. Many of the remaining roles cannot be performed remotely as they require access to certain equipment or require employees to be working out in the community. For these employees we’re implementing proper physical distancing measures and taking all the precautions we can.

Yes, at this time we’ve temporarily reduced the hours of our contact centres. By doing this, we are reducing the number of employees in our contact centres, which allows for proper physical distancing to ensure the health and safety of our employees, their families and community members.

Our customer service representatives are available to take your non-emergency natural gas and electricity calls from Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST. Please note: our 24/7 emergency lines are  always open and can be reached at 1-800-663-9911 for gas emergencies and 1-866-436-7847 for electric emergencies. You can also access your accounts through Account Online

Please note that, for the safety of our customers and employees, all our facilities are also closed to visitors at this time. 

Safety is our foremost concern and we take every precaution to protect our customers and employees. 

We’ve postponed all planned work that would require our staff to enter a customer’s home including planned meter exchanges. In situations where we must enter a customer’s home, such as an emergency, to ensure everyone’s safety, additional personal protection equipment may be used, including full torso overalls, respiratory protection, eye protection and hand protection.

We’ve advised all of our employees, including those who have face-to-face contact with customers, to stay home if they are feeling sick or showing any symptoms of the virus whatsoever and seek medical attention if symptoms progress. 

Yes, for the time being, we’ve postponed any work that would need a member of our team to enter your home unless the work is emergency related. If you had a previously scheduled appointment, we will reach out to you to reschedule it at a later date. Work that can be done outside at the meter will continue if required.  

In emergency situations where we must enter a customer’s home, to ensure everyone’s safety, additional personal protection equipment may be used including full torso overalls, respiratory protection, eye protection and hand protection.

If your bill was issued prior to March 23, a late fee may still appear. Please call our customer contact centre and we’ll be happy to reverse that charge for you. You can reach our customer contact centres at 1-866-436-7847 for electricity or 1-888-224-2710 for gas.

Our focus is on assisting all of our customers in ways that best support their individual circumstances. If any customer needs assistance, we’re here to help. Call our customer contact centre and we’ll help find a way forward.

We will be keeping a close eye on the situation and are continually assessing how we can help our customers.  

Our decision to waive late payment fees and stop disconnections, in response to COVID-19, is in place for the immediate future. As with all other measures we’ve taken in response to COVID-19, these decisions will be assessed on an ongoing basis. We remain committed to supporting our customers during this challenging and uncertain time by continuing to provide them with customized payment solutions for their bills. We encourage any of our customers to reach out to us for assistance.

Large commercial and industrial accounts impacted by COVID-19 are encouraged to speak with their key account manager to discuss payments arrangements.

Delivery of energy is a critical infrastructure service to British Columbians. Some scheduled maintenance and upgrades are required to ensure we can reliably and safely deliver natural gas, electricity and propane to homes and businesses as well as other essential services like hospitals and first responders. This includes critical safety inspections, emergency repairs to our system, and new service installations for homes or businesses pending occupancy or without heat. Fortunately, work on our infrastructure rarely requires our field employees to be in close contact with anyone, which means they can maintain advised physical distancing.

We’re temporarily postponing some work such as routine meter changes and all in-person customer engagement.

You will see our crews working throughout the communities we serve because as a critical infrastructure service provider, we must continue to provide the energy you need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means our crews are in the field responding to emergency calls and performing maintenance and system upgrades to support the delivery of safe and reliable energy to our hospitals, grocery stores, first responder agencies, homes and businesses. 

While working in the community, our crews will keep appropriate physical distancing measures with each other when possible and they have access to additional personal protective equipment like respiratory, eye and hand protection, to further reduce the risk of infection. If you do see our crews working, keep your distance to ensure your safety and the safety of our crews. 

Yes, reliable and safe energy delivery is considered a critical infrastructure service during the current public health emergency. Planned upgrades and maintenance to our infrastructure is important to maintain reliable energy delivery and failure to do the work on schedule could lead to larger or prolonged outages. At this time, we’re going ahead with some planned power outages. We appreciate your patience as our crews complete their work and restore power safely and as quickly as possible. For more information, visit fortisbc.com/outages.

FortisBC continues to monitor for new developments around COVID-19, and we have plans in place to maintain critical service in the event of widespread illness. Customers can be assured that we have the resource capacity to deal with any emergency or critical situation. Our primary goal is always to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and customers. That means we’re committed to making sure you have the energy you need and we are doing whatever we can to ensure your safety.  

We currently have no reported cases of COVID-19 among our staff.

We’re asking all our staff to follow all practices recommended by federal and provincial health officials. This includes:

  • frequent hand washing
  • adopting enhanced sanitization routines in our offices and facilities
  • supporting self-isolation measures
  • adopting physical distancing and prohibiting large group gatherings and visitors to our sites
  • restricting all non-essential business and personal travel
  • ensuring employees work from home where operationally possible

We’ve also postponed all planned work that would require our staff to enter a customer’s home including planned meter exchanges. In any emergency situation where we must enter a customer’s home, to ensure their safety, additional personal protection equipment may be used including full torso overalls, respiratory protection, eye protection and hand protection.

We’re ensuring that field crews from different muster stations are not working on the same site, keeping teams separate. Some customer service technicians are working from home, only visiting the muster station to stock up on required supplies to do their job.

We’ve also added vehicles to our vehicle pool so fewer people have to ride together to job sites or, when possible, workers can take separate vehicles.

FortisBC has suspended all service disconnections, for any financial reason, at this time. We’re aware that scammers and fraudsters are taking advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak and may phone or send phishing emails, text messages and social media posts, threatening disconnections. If you are contacted, please call our contact centre to report it. You can also learn more about protecting yourself from scams and fraud at fortisbc.com/scams.

Keeping you informed

As the situation evolves, we are committed to responding to the needs of our customers and employees and keeping you informed. Our contact centres are available to serve you, and we will post updates on our website and social media feeds.