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The AUC works to ensure that Albertans are referred to the right supports to keep their lights on and homes warm over the winter months.
The AUC has a vulnerable customer protection program in place to ensure that Albertans are not disconnected in the coldest periods of the year. Utility companies are not allowed to disconnect residential customers between October 15 and April 15 of each year, or at any time when the temperature will be below zero degrees Celsius in the 24-hour period after the pending disconnection. Beginning each October, utility service providers attempt to contact customers who are at risk of being disconnected from gas and electric utility service.
For those unable to pay your gas and electric utility bills or are worried about falling behind on payments, the first step is to make payment arrangements with your utility service provider and to investigate options to lower utility bills and reducing energy consumption.
Customers who are unable to do this directly with their utility service provider should contact the Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) who is available to assist with disconnection issues and with arranging utility bill payment plans on a customer’s behalf. For those who require this type of assistance, or have questions about social service programs that may help your situation, contact the UCA at:
The UCA is also a single point of contact for Albertans who have received a past due notice or notice of disconnection, and require greater assistance with utility bill payments.
At any time of the year, and not just during the winter months, a family member or a friend can make payments to clear billing debts and facilitate reconnection.
Anyone who is struggling to pay their utility bills or is in need of short-term billing assistance should contact the UCA. Customers may also contact Alberta Supports who is also available to connect Albertans to family and social supports, or visit the closest Alberta Human Services office.
What is the AUC’s role in helping utility customers at risk of being disconnected from utility service?
The AUC regularly reviews rules regarding load-limiting and other issues related to disconnection and reconnection during Rule 021: Settlement System Code Rules consultations.
The AUC continues to work with utility companies, the UCA and social agencies on disconnection/reconnection practices to ensure no one is disconnected from utility services during the winter months.
What is the UCA’s role?
Through their mediation team, the UCA administers the Winter Utility Reconnection Program on behalf of the AUC.
In preparation for the program, participating retailers provide the UCA with a list of their disconnected residential customers as of mid-October. The UCA’s then attempts to contact as many of these consumers as possible, and find ways to achieve service reconnection by acting as a mediator between the customers and utilities to find an approach that works for both parties.
If you are a disconnected customer, or a customer at risk of being disconnected from your utilities leading up to the winter months, please call the UCA at 310-4822 (extension 4).
If you require financial assistance, please review UCA’s website or visit Alberta Works.
What is Alberta Works’ role?
Alberta Works provides support to Albertans who are facing financial challenges. This support comes in many forms, and for utility disconnection, the request is considered urgent. Consumers can apply online for emergency benefits.
A utility disconnection is considered an emergency if it has been completed or if there is a disconnection pending within five days.
If you have submitted an online application with Alberta Works and you have received a past due notice from your retailer with disconnection pending to occur within five days, or you are currently disconnected, then this is considered an urgent utility situation. In these situations you are advised to go back into your online application and mark it as an urgent utility disconnection and upload your disconnection notice (pending or completed). This will trigger an emergency status to your application and review within 24 hours.
To be considered an emergency, the customer must be at immediate risk of disconnection or already disconnected.
For customers that can’t access the internet, please call the Alberta Supports main line (1-877-644-9992) and a phone assessment will be set up.