Utilities provide special assistance for customers struggling with bill payments

Date: 
01/15/2019
GasBill

As the list of those facing financial distress in the longest U.S. government shutdown in history, pawn shop businesses are increasing their customer list as are those providing short term loans at very high interest rates. However, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas and Commonwealth Edison are giving special consideration for those caught in this situation. 

All the utilities encourage anyone needing financial assistance in managing their energy bills to contact them immediately.  

Both gas companies have provided the following specific approaches for managing their bills:

Payment Arrangements: Customers can pay a portion of their past due balance while making payments towards current bills. Peoples Gas customers can enroll by calling 866.556.6601 and North Shore Gas customers can call 866.556.6004.Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): LIHEAP provides energy grants to individuals who earn at or below 150% of the poverty level. Eligibility is based on income and family size. For more information, Peoples Gas customers should call CEDA at 800.571.CEDA (2332) and North Shore Gas customers should call the Community Action Partnership of Lake County at 847.249.4330.

The Share the Warmth Program: Share the Warmth offers eligible customers a grant of up to $200. For more information, Peoples Gas customers should call CEDA at 800-571-CEDA 2332 and North Shore Gas customers should call the Community Action Partnership of Lake County at 847-249-4330.

Budget Payment Plan: Averages bill payments out over a 12-month period to help manage monthly natural gas bill.

ComEdBills

ComEd also offers a budget billing plan, which averages payments over a 12-month period and a flexible payment arrangement which includes individually tailored payment installment plans. Customers who may be experiencing financial hardship may see specifics on their website

The financial assistance programs Edison lists are:

  • A Residential Special Hardship program is for customers who face financial hardship such as job loss, illness, or military deployment, or senior or disability hardships. These individuals may be eligible for grants of up to $500 once every two years based on need. 
  • The CHAMP (ComEd Helps Activated/Veteran Military Personnel) program enables activated and deployed members of the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard, and Reserves and honorably discharged veterans to apply for grants of up to $1,000 once every two years, deferred payment plans, cancellation of late charges, and other benefits. 
  • As with the gas companies, they have a Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). It is administered by community agencies throughout ComEd's region, LIHEAP is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the state of Illinois. 
  • Nonprofit organizations that struggle to pay their electric bills may be eligible under the Nonprofit Special Hardship program. Those grants are up to $2,000 once every two years, to help them cover their expenses and continue to fulfill their missions and serve the community.
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