To be fair to its customers, Hydro-Québec ensures that they each pay a reasonable amount for the services they receive. Disconnection for non-payment is a last resort. From December 1 to March 31, service is maintained or restored to customers whose homes are heated with electricity and who have failed to pay their bills.
Every year, thousands of low-income customers who have difficulty paying their bills benefit from special long-term payment arrangements. To respond adequately to the needs of low-income customers, Hydro-Québec has simplified the personalized arrangement process with a view to reaching more of these customers. Other possible solutions involve facilitating identification of low-income customers in order to offer them appropriate services and programs to prevent indebtedness to Hydro-Québec. To facilitate business relations and the collection process with customers who do not have a good command of either English or French, Hydro-Québec deals with four non-profit organizations that provide translation services in 18 languages1 and guarantee that the information exchanged will remain strictly confidential.
1 Arabic, Armenian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Taishanese (China), Haitian Creole and Seychelles Creole, Spanish, Lao, Cambodian, Urdu, Romanian, Russian, Sri Lankan Tamil, Vietnamese, Ukrainian and various African languages
While electricity is inexpensive in Québec, it still represents a significant outlay for some households. For this reason, we have worked with the low-income household and local associations working group to develop solutions to help these customers.
- The Equalized Payments Plan (EPP) was promoted among all residential customers.
- The Equalized Payments Plan is available to customers who anticipate payment difficulties.
- Promotional campaigns “Before you rent” and “Don’t let the situation get worse”
- Interventions with customers in the recovery process were faster and more frequent.
- Intermediaries (consumer associations and others) were encouraged to suggest to customers that they contact Hydro-Québec without delay to reach a payment arrangement.
Activities in 2016
- A new Web page presenting options in the event of payment difficulties was launched.
- 89 employees attended the workshop on doing business in a context of poverty to learn about collecting from low-income customers who are having difficulty making payments.
- Three new agreements were signed with community organizations aimed at facilitating business relations with clienteles from Syrian refugee groups who spoke neither English nor French.
- Five collections working groups were held with various consumer associations. We have maintained close ties with these organizations for over 15 years to best identify how to support low-income clients experiencing payment difficulties.
- We responded to over 1,200 information requests from the Régie de l’énergie and various stakeholders regarding rate application. These stakeholders represent the interests of consumers, environmental groups, contractors and others.