PNG seeks to defer customer payments because of COVID-19

The plan is to do this for three months

Pacific Northern Gas is asking its regulator for approval to defer payments from eligible customers for up to three months.

The application to do so was filed with the B.C. Utilities Commission April 9 and the utility is now waiting for the commission’s response.

If approved, eligible customers will then have until March 2021 to make up the payments.

“Residential customers need to be able to confirm that they have experienced job loss, are unable to work due to COVID-19, or have had their wages reduced,” said PNG official Joe Mazza of its application.

“Eligibility for small commercial customers includes needing to close their business or have experienced a significant reduction in revenue due to COVID-19.”

Customers will not be subject to late payments charges or disconnection for the three-month period but will also have to agree to enter into repayment arrangements for any balances to be paid by March 31, 2021.

“As long customers are meeting their obligations under their repayment program, they will not be charged late payment charges or be subject to disconnections,” PNG indicated in its application.

The bill payment deferral program will apply to PNG’s two main distribution networks in northern B.C. — PNG West for the area west along Hwy 16 and PNG N.E. in northeastern B.C.

As it is, PNG began changing its collection program March 17 to reach what it termed as “mutually agreeable bill payment arrangements, including partial payment, customized payment plans and the waiver of late payment charges.”

It was also directed by the utilities commission to halt the disconnection of service for non-payment.

For now PNG said it doesn’t believe changes are needed to its current rates to implement the payment deferral program.

But part of its application includes setting up separate accounts for its two distribution systems into which it’ll place “any unrecovered revenues resulting from customers in any rate class who do not pay their bills due to the impacts of COVID-19 on their financial circumstance.”

“Billed amounts will only become bad debt after PNG has gone through its [collection] process and made efforts to recover the revenue owed.”

And when the financial impact of COVID-19 is better known, PNG will then seek approval as to how unrecovered debt may affect future rate increases.

It will also calculate its costs for dealing with COVID-19, including increasing customer service requirements and personal protective equipment purchases and include those in any future rate increase applications.

The company’s distribution services cover 42,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers across 16 communities in the north.

Meanwhile, BC Hydro, a Crown corporation, is providing a three-month billing credit which does not have to be repaid to qualifying households as part of the provincial response to COVID-19.

Qualifying small business customers will also receive a credit for April, May and June.

And qualifying customers can also defer payments or arrange for a payment plan with no penalty.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Search continues for wolf, senior citizen being transferred to Vancouver

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Sunken Gardens bloom from deeply seeded efforts

Garden club members are rooted in dedication

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Most Read