“It’s not personal, it’s business.”
I can tell you that is not true. It is not true in the slightest.
At our core, we believe that everyone should have access to safe, affordable and reliable electricity. Maybe it’s not a revolutionary statement or goal, but we strongly believe it’s how we can best serve our community. We also believe it’s what you, as our customer, expect from us.
This month will mark one year since the pandemic came to our doors, and I wanted to take this opportunity to reaffirm that, as a local business, our customers are personal to us.
Why? Simply put, you’re the reason why.
Hydro Ottawa has been in business for more than 100 years and is still in business today because of you. Maybe we haven’t communicated this enough to you, but I’m a firm believer that you have to be clear and candid, and say what you mean, or you risk having people question their value and importance to you.
Since the pandemic, our conversations about our customers have deepened. They’ve shifted from customer service and experience to customer wellness, advocacy, empathy and assistance. Right now, at this moment, there’s nothing more important to us than making sure you know that we’ve got your back. What’s more, we’ll work to get you the help you need while ensuring we keep the lights on at a time when you need it most.
Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we have been working closely with the Ontario Energy Board and the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, to address customer concerns about financial relief and managing electricity costs.
Because you’re the reason why we do what we do, I want to remind you about some resources we have if you’re struggling to pay your electricity bills right now. We offer real solutions and several financial assistance programs so you can focus on your own reasons why: yourself, your family and/or your business.
- The Ontario Energy Board recently reviewed the eligibility criteria to make its COVID-19 Energy Assistance Programs more widely accessible for customers, and credit amounts have been increased to $750 for residential customers and $1,500 for businesses. If you’re behind, please apply today.
- The provincial and federal governments also have separate measures that provide additional financial support to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic like Ontario’s property tax and energy cost rebates and various programs under Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. To make it easy, we have links and details on our dedicated page here.
- In addition to these COVID-19 government relief programs, we offer arrear payment arrangements and other financial assistance programs that can help you get back on track. If you prefer, you can simply contact us directly at 613 738-6400 to talk about your account and our flexible payment plans. We promise you an empathetic, caring ear.
Sometimes, like so many of us, you may also need more than financial help. Chances are you’re someone else’s ‘reason why’ - so taking care of your mental and physical health is just as important. If you’re dealing with stress, depression or anxiety, there are free resources available on the Government of Canada and Government of Ontario COVID-19 websites.
At Hydro Ottawa, we are committed to working everyday with transparency to earn your trust. We endeavour to intentionally centre our discussions around our customers and the communities in which we live and work.
You’re the reason why our crews work day and night, in the snow, rain and heat to keep the lights on and the power flowing. You’re also the reason why we’re building a more sustainable Ottawa with additional renewable energy, infrastructure that is more resilient to extreme weather events, and deploying new technology and systems so we can restore power quickly when outages do happen. With every decision we make, we weigh the financial impact to you alongside the safety and reliability of our equipment and Ottawa’s electricity grid. While we can be proud of being ranked third for lowest-costs-per-customer among Ontario’s large distributors, it means that there’s always work for us to do to achieve our goal to be number one.
With that, I hope you know you’re more than a 20-digit account number. We know there’s ongoing uncertainty for many Ottawa residents due to the COVID-19 crisis, and we’re here to help. Because you’re our reason why.
- Julie Lupinacci is the Chief Customer Officer at Hydro Ottawa.