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Helping Albertans reconnect heat, power before winter

Alberta’s Winter Reconnection Program helps vulnerable Albertans get their electricity and natural gas reconnected for winter.

Minister Richard Feehan at podium

Minister Richard Feehan

Since November 1, the Utilities Consumer Advocate has helped reconnect 43 Albertans whose services were cut off during the summer. The program runs until Dec. 23. On average, the UCA helps reconnect 75 homes per year.  

As part of the program, UCA works with gas and electricity companies, social agencies, and other Alberta government programs, such as AISH and Alberta Works, to help families get reconnected.

“Every Albertan deserves to feel warm and safe in the winter.  Our Winter Reconnection Program protects the most vulnerable in our province. The program is reaching out to those at risk to get their heat and power back on, and offer them the supports they need to get through the cold months.”

Stephanie McLean, Minister of Service Alberta

Based on last year’s statistics, people living on First Nations or Metis Settlements are twice as likely to face disconnection. That’s why this year, the UCA has hired a new consumer outreach and education staff member to reach out to Indigenous communities.

“Heat and power are essential to life in Alberta, particularly during our cold winters. It is important that our government reaches out to Indigenous communities to ensure nobody falls through the cracks.”

Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations

UCA makes every effort to contact those whose who were disconnected over the summer because they fell behind on their bills. Once successful, UCA staff help negotiate a repayment plan with their energy company, and if needed, refer them to community supports.

Anyone facing disconnection is encouraged to reach out to the UCA.

About Utilities Consumer Advocate

The Utilities Consumer Advocate is part of Service Alberta. Their role is to educate, mediate and help protect consumers of natural gas and electricity in Alberta.

The UCA represents the interests of 1.5 million household; 187,000 small business; and 109,000 farm sites.

People with questions about managing their utility bills can contact the Utilities Consumer Advocate at www.ucahelps.alberta.ca or 310-4UCA (toll-free). The UCA website has a new feature that allows you to compare prices for gas and electricity.

How it works

Under current regulations, utility retailers cannot shut off a consumer’s service:

  • between November 1 and April 14 and any time of the year when the overnight temperature is forecast to drop below zero degrees in the next 24 hours for natural gas; and
  • between October 15 to April 15 for electricity.

Each year before winter, retailers contact consumers whose services are disconnected, encouraging them to settle accounts in arrears and arrange reconnections.

The Winter Utility Reconnection Program was designed to reach out to those consumers that the retailers haven’t been able to reconnect or get into contact with before winter.

  • The Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) receives a list from the regulated utility retailers of the names and contact information of customers who were disconnected after April 15 and remained disconnected as of November 1.
  • The UCA attempts to contact consumers first by letter and then by phone in an attempt to get their utilities reconnected.
  • In some cases, the UCA will share customer information with such social agencies as Alberta Works, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) and seniors organizations, which may help with payments or make home visits.

Winter Utility Reconnection Program, by the numbers

Winter year

Customers who had services reconnected

2011-12

31

2012-13

46

2013-14

109

2014-15

129

2015-16

67

2016-17 (through Nov. 30)

43


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