Power line crews from B.C. who are helping with the post-Superstorm Sandy clean-up in the U.S. are being told by BC Hydro that despite their commendable efforts, they could be fined for them.

BC Hydro sent out a letter to every line contractor that the utility uses in the province, telling them that they could either face fines or the loss of future contracts if they don’t have enough personnel returning to B.C. soon. Many have headed south as tens of thousands of families and businesses continue to be without power after Sandy and the nor’easter recently hit areas like New York and New Jersey.

Hydro Spokesperson Simi Heer said the letter was sent because B.C. is entering storm season and needs those contractors to help in emergencies.

“We are supportive of their efforts to send crews out east, obviously we have some fantastic skills in B.C., so it's great that they can go help out,” she said. “What we're doing is asking that these companies to work with us and plan with us to ensure British Columbians aren't left in the dark if there is a big storm here in BC."

Clark Hooton with Highland Powerlines in Kamloops said he agrees that currently, there are not enough linemen in B.C. who could be of help should a major storm hit. However, he says it is because more and more people have taken up work outside the province as BC Hydro contracts dry up.

Hooton also said he thought the letter was “worded somewhat harsh.”

“They could’ve worded it differently and it would’ve gone over a lot better,” he said.

Heer, however, disagrees.

"I think the intent of the letter was to serve as a reminder,” she said. “We have great working relationships with our contractors. About 50 percent of the work that happens in the field is completed by these contractors."

With files from CTV British Columbia’s Penny Daflos