NWT Power Corporation announced Tuesday that it will scrap its utility limiters during the COVID-19 crisis.
“(A)ll limiters will be removed as quickly as practical to ensure no customers suffer undue hardship during the pandemic,” the company stated in a new release, explaining they would be removed as “quickly as practical.”
The move followed the corporation’s decision to close its customer service offices in Inuvik, Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Yellowknife and Hay River, it stated in a Tuesday release. Without the offices, customers would have difficulty deferring bills or entering into a flexible payment plan, it said.
Limiters curb electricity use for residents who have failed to make a payment for more than 28 days.
The corporation also stated it would be cutting non-essential travel within the territory, and all travel outside of it. Inside NWT, all travel will have to be approved by the president and CEO, or be necessary to maintain service.
Any work projects needed will be completed on case-by-case basis, the release added.
“It may be difficult for our workers to respond as quickly as usual to service disruptions due to travel and other restrictions. Please be assured that we will restore power as quickly as possible,” the release stated.
Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler said she was pleased to hear the decision.
“If we’re asking (residents) to stay home, we can’t be asking them to stay home without power and utilities,” she said.
MLA Jackie Jacobson of the neighbouring Nunakput constituency pushed heavily to scrap limiters in recent assembly discussions.
Opposed to the limiters since before the crisis, he said they should be removed until June, adding on Monday that he was “worried about our communities, our elders.”
NWT Housing Corporation Minister Shane Thompson refused to commit to the measure in assembly Monday, but appears to have relented by Tuesday.
The corporation, meanwhile, encouraged residents to contact customer services, to pay online, by telephone or internet through their bank, in person at a co-op or northern store, or by mailing in payments.
“Customers are encouraged to speak to NTPC to set up payment plans to ensure their electricity service is not impacted in the future,” it stated.