Illinois utilities shut off moratorium ends Wednesday; how to get help paying bills

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CHICAGO (WLS) — Illinois’ moratorium on utility shut-offs during the COVID-19 pandemic ends Wednesday, but there is still help available for anyone who needs assistance paying bills.

"Whether it’s gas, electricity, water, these are things that are fundamental to our day-to-day living," said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. "The smartest thing to do is to reach out to your utility company, because they are obligated to engage in those negotiations for deferred payment agreements."

Utilities will begin staggered shut offs on April 1 for those who owe and have not reached out for assistance.

The state and several of the utility companies negotiated more generous deferred payments options than previously offered, and more financial assistance paying down the debt. But state officials warn that assistance is limited, so don’t wait.

"You can get money off what is owed by engaging the utility," said Carrie Zalewski, chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission. "It’s important to note the bill payment assistance program is a finite fund, so it runs out, so call soon."

"We can get to a point where we are not too proud to let people know we need help. The help is out there," said Bernida Davenport-McWhite.

Davenport-McWhite got assistance a few years ago through the Community Economic Development Association or CEDA. Now the North Lawndale resident is an ambassador for the agency, and urged those who need the help to ask for it.

"It really helped with a stepping stone to, OK, now there is hope, what can I do to keep the success going, how can I save money, how can I not waste energy?" she said.

RESOURCES FOR UTILITY BILL ASSISTANCE TO PREVENT SHUT OFF

Click here to see All CEDA intake sites located throughout the city, with phone numbers and regionIllinois LHEAP hotline

Customers outside of Chicago to call the

Illinois LIHEAP Hotline at 1-877-411-9276

, or visit the

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website

to determine whether they are eligible or to find an agency that can help with applications.

Customers residing in the city of Chicago should call 800-571-2332 or visit http://www.cedaorg.net.

Chicago water customers can apply for the city of Chicago’s Utility Billing Relief program by calling the Customer Service Center at 312-744-4426 or visiting their website.

Peoples Gas

People’s Gas will not disconnect any customer on April 1. The customer will first receive a notice, after which they have 10 days to contact People’s Gas and work out financial details to avoid disconnection. The earliest a customer would be disconnected is Monday, April 12.

Peoples Gas is offering an additional $6 million in bill-payment assistance to its residential customers facing hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The assistance is the result of collaboration between Illinois gas and electric utilities, the State of Illinois, consumer groups, and other stakeholders. It was approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). The additional assistance is being offered in the form of a one-time credit of up to $500 on customer bills, plus other support to help pay bills.

Customers who may be eligible for the new assistance will receive a letter with additional details from Peoples Gas in April. They can also get information at

peoplesgasdelivery.com

or by calling Peoples Gas at 866-556-6001. The programs will be offered for a limited time.

Details:

Bill Payment Assistance: $6 million in additional funds are available to provide one-time bill credits of up to $500 through the Peoples Gas Bill Payment Assistance Program (BPAP).

Flexible Payment Arrangements: Peoples Gas is offering flexible payment arrangements. Depending on residential customers’ eligibility status, these may include plans of 0% or 10% down, with payments spread across 18 months.

Service Reconnections: Customers whose service has been disconnected may be eligible for reconnections by providing a reduced down-payment of 25% of their outstanding balances. Customers may also be eligible for down-payment assistance through BPAP, the

Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

or other federal, state or local assistance programs.

In addition to the newly added support, millions of dollars in financial assistance remain available through ongoing Share the Warmth and LIHEAP programs. Customers can contact the Community and Economic Development Association (CEDA) directly at cedaorg.net or 800-571-2332 for more information. Customers can also monitor the CEDA website and peoplesgasdelivery.com for any additional assistance made available in the future through federal, state and local programs.

North Shore Gas

North Shore Gas will not disconnect any customer on April 1. The customer will first receive a notice, after which they have 10 days to contact North Shore Gas and work out financial details to avoid disconnection. The earliest a customer would be disconnected is Monday, April 12.

North Shore Gas is offering credits of up to $500 as part of bill-payment assistance to its residential customers facing hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new assistance is the result of collaboration between Illinois gas and electric utilities, the State of Illinois, consumer groups, and other stakeholders. It was approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). The assistance is being offered in the form of a one-time credit on customer bills, along with other support to help pay bills.

Customers who may be eligible for the new assistance will receive a letter with additional details from North Shore Gas in April. They can also get information at

northshoregasdelivery.com

or by calling North Shore Gas at 866-556-6004. The programs will be offered for a limited time.

Details:

Bill Payment Assistance: One-time bill credits of up to $500 through the Bill Payment Assistance Program (BPAP).

Flexible Payment Arrangements: North Shore Gas is offering flexible payment arrangements. Depending on residential customers’ eligibility status, these may include plans of 0% or 10% down, with payments spread across 18 months.

Service Reconnections: Customers whose service has been disconnected may be eligible for reconnections by providing a reduced down-payment of 25% of their outstanding balances. Customers may also be eligible for down-payment assistance through BPAP, the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or other federal, state or local assistance programs.

In addition to the newly added support, millions of dollars in financial assistance remain available through ongoing Share the Warmth and LIHEAP programs. Contact Community Action Partnership of Lake County (CAPOLC) directly atcaplakecounty.org or 847-249-4330 for more information. Customers can also monitor the CAPOLC website and northshoregasdelivery.com for any additional assistance made available in the future through federal, state and local programs.

ComEd

We encourage any customer who is struggling with a past-due balance to call us at 1-800-334-7661 (1-800-EDISON-1), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. One of our representatives can work with the customer to try to find a financial solution that best meets that customer’s needs.

On March 18, ComEd announced a new package of bill-assistance options created with the support of ICC staff, the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, other large Illinois gas and electric utilities and a broad group of consumer advocacy agencies. In short, this package includes:

– An additional $9 million in funding, starting April 1, 2021, that will provide more, one-time bill credits of up to $500, until funds are exhausted. Grants have been extended to households that are at or below 300% of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is up to $79,500 for a family of four.

– More-flexible payment arrangements through June 30, 2021, including:

– Extended payment arrangement plans to eligible households, which allow customers to spread outstanding balances over 18 monthly installments with no money down. This option is available to households that are at or below 300% of the FPL.

– All other residential customers with outstanding balances can enroll in an 18-month payment plan with a 10% down payment

Illinois Commerce Commission

The Illinois Commerce Commission Consumer Services Hotline is available in English and Spanish Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-800-524-0795

Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

via ABC7 Chicago

March 30, 2021 at 09:53PM

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