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Free air conditioners in B.C.: Who is eligible, how to apply


BC Hydro is now accepting applications for government-funded air conditioners for low-income residents.


The online application went live on Friday for those who live in apartments or condos, with the website providing additional information about who qualifies and how the program will roll out. In the two weeks since the province announced $10 million in funding to support this initiative, a BC Hydro spokesperson said the utility received 2,000 requests to be notified when applications opened up.


Currently, BC Hydro and City of New Westminster customers can apply. Fortis Electric customers can fill out a form to receive an application once it becomes available.


The income threshold is based on the pre-tax earnings of all adults who live in a home. For a single person to be eligible, they need to make less than $38,200 per year. For a two-person household, it’s $47,600; for a three-person household, it’s $58,500. Children are included in the total number of people who make up a household. The income threshold is capped at $101,100 for a home with seven or more people.


“We know after the last two summers and with the heat we’ve already had this year, many British Columbians are looking to air conditioning to keep them cool, but cost is a barrier for many. We hear our customers, especially those living in apartments, condos and mobile homes, that tend to struggle with heat the most and often have limited options available when it comes to cooling,” a BC Hydro spokesperson said in an email to CTV News.


Acceptable proof of income includes a notice of assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency or verification that the applicant is receiving income or disability assistance. Proof that someone receives a rental subsidy from BC Housing, such as the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters or the Rental Assistance Program, can also be submitted as can proof of receipt of the National Child Benefit Supplement or the Guaranteed Income Supplement.


Renters with a utility account in their names are required to submit an additional document in order to qualify. 


BC Hydro’s website doesn’t specify how long it is expected to take for applications to be processed but does say that a contractor will get in touch to schedule a home visit within two weeks of approval.


The utility notes that it will be working with Ministry of Health will be prioritizing those who are “medically heat vulnerable,” which is defined as people who are over 65 and who receive home health support services. Those who meet this criteria but exceed the income threshold may be referred by their community health worker,” BC Hydro’s website says.


$50 AC REBATES


Through July 28, people who purchase certain portable or window-mounted air conditioning units are able to receive a $50 rebate from BC Hydro. The rebate program launched on June 2 and a spokesperson for BC Hydro says, so far, about 6,300 people have accessed it.


Ninety per cent of those people, an emailed statement said, received an automatic rebate in-store at a Costco, Best Buy or Home Depot. People who bought an eligible unit elsewhere can apply for the rebate online through Sept. 26 and will see the $50 applied as a credit to a future hydro bill.

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