State, utility companies pass agreement to help people pay bills

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) passed a new agreement Thursday with large utility companies to make sure residents who can’t pay their bills on time can get an extension.

On March 31, the statewide winter moratorium that prevents utility cutoffs will end, putting many residents who are struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic in a tough spot.

The Illinois Commerce Commission decided to get ahead of the game and protect those residents by signing an agreement with large utility companies, like Ameren and ComEd.

This will allow people to call, explain their situation, and automatically receive an extension no matter what.

“Anyone who calls their utility and explains their hardship, you don’t need to qualify by the income, you just need to explain your situation," ICC Chairman Carrie Zalewski said. "You can enter into a deferred payment arrangement, which means you get more time to pay off the lump sum that you owe."

The agreement also asks utility companies to send disconnections notices on a staggered basis, starting April 1.

Zalewski said utility companies only have a set amount of money set aside for this bill assistance program, so it’s important to call now if you’re struggling to pay utility bills.

Low-income customers who had their utilities disconnected can contact their utility company by June 30 to have reconnection fees waived.

You can learn more about the agreement here.

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March 19, 2021 at 09:07PM

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