Coronavirus
Economy

What’s happening to NWT utility bills during the pandemic?


After Northwestel overage fees were dropped for some communities, NWT residents began asking if utility companies would make similar allowances.

With much of the territory closed down and thousands now working and learning from home, people are expecting bills for power, heating, and water to increase.

We asked what steps were being taken to reduce the burden on residents. In Ontario, for example, hydro rates have been lowered for at least the next six weeks.

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The NWT won’t be so lucky.

Some utility companies and the City of Yellowknife are waiving late fees if you’re behind on utility bill payments. (Other communities like Hay River, Fort Smith, and Inuvik either did not respond or did not have a definitive answer yet.)

Northland Utilities said it has no “bill reduction program” in place. Instead, Northland – the power distributor for Yellowknife and Hay River – asked “any customer experiencing financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic to contact our office to discuss options available, such as instalment or budget payment plans.”

The territorial government, speaking on behalf of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation – which it owns – also had no specific plans to reduce customers’ bills.

However, the corporation “will not engage in any collection activities,” nor will it disconnect customers who fall behind on payments during the pandemic.

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The power corporation previously said it would remove power limiters from all customers and would not install any more until the coronavirus crisis is over.

Customers can defer bill payments or begin a flexible payment plan without penalty.

Hay River-based Midnight Petroleum said it was waiving late payment fees on all accounts for March and April.

“We are also willing to work with our customers by offering deferred payment plans for those who require it,” wrote Curtis Rowe, the general manager.

“We understand that this situation is ongoing and we are making every effort to ensure all needs are continually met with the smallest burden to our customers as we can.”

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