After intense public and political pressure Ontario’s Electricity Safety Authority (ESA) is waiving reconnection fees for flood victims.

“Our hearts go to those who have been impacted by the flooding and our teams are working hand in hand with local authorities to restore power as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Earl Davison, Vice-President of ESA Operations.

A press release from ESA states, “Due to the unprecedented level of flooding and subsequent need for immediate actions to keep Ontarians safe from electrical harm, the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) is waiving reconnection fees effective immediately in regard to the restoration of electrical services in flood damaged areas in the province. For anyone who has already paid this fee, a full refund will be provided through the customer service centre at 1-877-372-7233.”

The decision is an about-face for the agency. On Monday Davison told CTV News, it was common practice to charge homeowners $297 + hst for reconnection inspections even in a natural disaster.

The idea of paying the fee added more stress to already tense homeowners dealing with the unprecedented flood waters.

Kanata-Carleton MPP Merrilee Fullerton says she was “pleased” with the ESA announcement,

“I have been working on this initiative since last Thursday when it was first brought to my attention by some West Carleton residents,” says Fullerton.

“It is encouraging to see the ESA take these steps for those currently facing extreme hardships that are beyond their control.”

West Carleton councillor Eli El-Chantiry had sent a text to Fullerton and Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Monday pushing them to use their political power to force the ESA to waive the fees.

He calls the ESA decision “the right thing to do,”

“I’m surprised it took that much pressure to make the change but nevertheless we’re grateful for that.”

Nearly 300 residents in the West Carleton communities of Constance Bay, Fitzroy Harbour, MacLaren’s Landing, Willola Beach, Dunrobin and Vydon Acres had their power cut-off because of the high flood waters.