No. The introduction of next-generation meters has absolutely no impact on our collections procedure. This procedure is well documented and approved by the Régie de l’énergie and involves sending several notices and reminders before proceeding with a service interruption, which is used only when all other steps have been exhausted. Service interruption is always a last resort. Hydro-Québec’s objective is to get the customer to pay the balance due and not to disconnect service.
Hydro-Québec encourages customers with good payment habits to call and make a payment arrangement if they are going through a difficult situation and cannot pay their balance due. Low-income customers can enter into a payment arrangement adapted to their situation at any time.
It is true that technically, interrupting and restoring electricity service remotely may be simpler with the introduction of next-generation meters, since an employee is no longer required to go on-site. However, the recovery procedure remains the same, whether a customer has a next-generation meter or not. Interrupting service is always a last resort.
Electricity is one of the only services billed to customers after it has been consumed. In the interest of fairness, Hydro-Québec must ask all customers to pay for the electricity used. Otherwise, these amounts increase Hydro-Québec’s bad debt which affects the rates paid by all customers. Note that nearly 90% of customers pay their bill on or before the deadline. In addition, electricity to the main residence of customers with electric heating is never cut during the winter period, between December 1 and March 31.
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