State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) says she supports a breakthrough utility relief agreement that will help utility customers who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has unanimously approved an agreement between the Attorney General's Office, the state's largest utilities, and other consumer advocate groups that ensures eligible utility customers can continue to receive services once the current moratorium on disconnections expires. It also offers more flexibility when it comes to credit and collection procedures for customers who have been financially struggling due to COVID-19.
"So many of our residents have suffered an immense financial hardship caused by this pandemic," said Sen. Rezin. "Our state still has a long way to go before we truly recover from the lockdown's financial impact. This agreement ensures that struggling families and small businesses have one less thing to worry about as they move forward."
The agreement covers eight of the state's major utility companies, including: Aqua Illinois, Illinois-American Water Company, Utility Services of Illinois, Inc., Ameren Illinois Company, Northern Illinois Gas Company (Nicor Gas), North Shore Gas Company, The Peoples Gas Light & Coke Company (Peoples Gas), and Commonwealth Edison (ComEd).
The terms of the agreement includes extending the moratorium on disconnections and suspension of late payment fees until the state enters Phase 4 of the governor's reopening plan, or August 1, 2020, whichever comes first, and for an additional 30 days beyond that for most customers. The utility companies will then have to notify residential consumers with past- due balances on their account within 30 days about the more flexible payment and bill assistance options available and how they can enroll before disconnection notices are sent.
"This agreement is something that the Illinois Senate Energy Working Group discussed and supported," said Sen. Rezin. "I am happy to see that the Illinois Commerce Commission and all of the other stakeholders were able to make it happen. We need to make sure that people don't lose access to life-saving services because of this unprecedented health crisis."
The ICC also approved a similar consumer-protection agreement with five of Illinois' smaller utility companies, Consumers Gas Company, Illinois Gas Company, Liberty Utilities Corp., MidAmerican Energy Company, and Mt. Carmel Public Utility Company.
To read the full order, please click here.