You've probably already faced it sometime this year. Your power has gone out. In most cases, it's back up and running within the hour, but in the middle of a winter storm, every moment counts.
Imagine that you lost hydro for multiple hours, during the worst winter storm of the year. Your pipes freeze, food spoils, you might even have to sleep somewhere else to avoid the damages.
TL;DR In the case of a power outage causing damage, getting Hydro-Québec to compensate for your troubles is extremely rare and almost impossible due to regulations not holding them accountable. It's advised that you read your insurance policy in advance to ensure you'll be safely covered. More details below.
And after all your suffering, what could get worse than finding out that Hydro-Québec probably won't be picking up the bill?
It's for sure a scenario straight out of a nightmare, but it's also super likely considering the biggest snowstorm of the year is about to hit Quebec. Plus, this isn't anything new, for years people have had to deal with the consequences of lost power in extreme conditions.
In the event of losing power in your home, Hydro-Québec is very rarely held accountable for paying the damages. The current operating conditions in the province state that you are responsible for protecting the electrical installation of your home against voltage fluctuations.
So really, in most cases the only person receiving a bill is yourself.
The terms of service approved and currently in effect by the Régie de l'énergie state that Hydro-Québec is not obliged to provide electricity services void of interruption or variation in voltage.
If you were totally set on holding Hydro-Québec accountable for hours without power, you'd have to demonstrate that they committed gross or willful misconduct, according to Journal de Montreal.
The proof is super difficult to come by, and instances, where Hydro-Québec has compensated customers, are few. The best thing you can do when you're faced with damage from a power outage is take a look at your home insurance policy, because you might already be covered.
Another way you might not be totally left with all the bills is through an event known as "force majeure." This is an event that cannot be foreseen or avoided, which power outages sometimes fall under. In this case, it's expected that a person bound by a contract are released from their obligations.
So maybe there is hope for those of us at risk of losing power during the winter storm. You may want to start preparing now though, as your chances of being compensated by Hydro-Québec are still super slim.