Tornadoes. Ice storms. Floods. And now, a pandemic. If there’s one thing we are familiar with at Hydro Ottawa, its crises. And although the COVID-19 outbreak is not one directly linked to the energy sector, it is a crisis impacting our entire community.
This is an unprecedented situation with many unknowns. But one thing Ottawa residents shouldn’t have to worry about is a safe and reliable supply of electricity. This remains our primary goal, and, as our President and CEO mentioned in his letter to customers at the outset of this pandemic, we remain vigilant and focused on achieving this goal.
We also feel it is vital that we keep you, our customers, as informed and supported as possible.
Since March, we’ve responded to many inquiries and heard from many concerned customers, so we decided to provide direct answers to some of the most common questions we’ve received about your energy supply or Hydro Ottawa.
1. What if my power goes out?
Hydro Ottawa is dedicated to providing safe and reliable electricity to all customers. Please note that large scale non-essential work has been postponed until further notice, with the exception of emergency jobs, and those deemed essential to providing a reliable supply of power to our customers. However, due to events beyond our control like extreme weather, we can’t guarantee an uninterrupted supply of power all of the time. If the power goes out, please let us know by calling our dedicated outage line at (613) 738-0188 or online through MyAccount. Our Outage Map remains available to customers wanting to check on the status of an outage, and our social media channels will be updated regularly to keep you informed.
2. Are your crews still out working in the community?
As restrictions are lifted and the city finds its new normal, our work around town may also increase. As an essential service provider to the community, you may see our crews out in your neighbourhood performing work required to connect new customers, maintain our infrastructure, and keep the system running to ensure our customers have access to a safe and reliable supply of electricity at a time when they need it most.
Hydro Ottawa has put in place preventive measures to protect the health and safety of our employees and the public. Employees are reminded to practice social distancing and hygiene measures. Whenever possible, employees are working remotely. Rest assured that our field employees will continue to provide essential services and our power line workers will continue to respond. If they are required to visit any premises, our field employees will follow all safety measures issued by public health authorities.
Furthermore, our crews will not be entering any occupied premise, such as residential homes, Long Term Care facilities, Day Care centers, unless risk has been carefully assessed.
Please visit our Planned Work web page for more information.
3. Will there be any changes to electricity rates to help me pay my bill?
On May 30, the provincial government announced a new COVID-19 Recovery Rate – a flat rate of 12.8 cents/kWh – for all customers who were previously on time-of-use pricing. This flat rate will be applied automatically (no customer action is required) and will be in effect from June 1 to October 31, 2020, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For more information, you can visit the Ontario Energy Board electricity rates page.
4. I got a call that I will be disconnected – is this accurate?
Scams targeting our customers, by either threatening disconnection or demanding payment (or both), are becoming more and more prevalent, and these scammers often use times of crisis and distraction to reach those most vulnerable. We have already heard of scam activity targeting Hydro Ottawa customers during the COVID-19 outbreak, and it’s possible this activity could continue or increase. That said, we do reach out to customers from time to time to discuss their accounts. A legitimate call from us will not include a threat of same-day disconnections or demands for payment over the phone. Rather, customers will be encouraged to use their preferred payment method or call our main number to be transferred to our secure credit card payment line. When in doubt, please hang up and call us back at 613-738-6400. Learn more about how to spot a scam by watching this video or by visiting the Fraud Awareness section of our website
5. What programs are available to help pay my bills?
Everyone is facing harder times right now – and those hardships may last for the foreseeable future. We have updated the COVID-19-dedicated page on our website to outline the new measures we are taking to support customers, including flexible payment options. We’ve also included a list of other financial assistance programs, including emergency relief, available to our customers.
6. How can we conserve electricity while self-isolating or social distancing?
Many people want to conserve energy, whether to reduce their electricity costs or to lower their carbon footprint. However, having the entire family home all day, every day, especially in the warmer months, might mean using more electricity than what would be the average for your household. If you’re looking to reduce your energy consumption at home over the summer, we invite you to check out our conservation page for a list of 65 Ways to Manage Energy Use. Remember, even small changes add up over time.
If we missed something or if your question was not answered in the list above, you can contact us by phone or email using our Contact Us form. Please note that we are experiencing a higher than usual volume of inquiries, so wait times may be longer.
Stay healthy, and as always, stay safe!