Ameren Illinois is providing more assistance to their customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills. In an announcement on July 28th, the energy provider announced they have allocated $8 million in bill payment assistance to help qualified residential customers reduce or eliminate a past due balance on their account.
The “Fresh Start” program provides up to $700 per customer account that has a past due balance as a result of COVID-19. Since the program opened on July 9th, nearly 5,000 customers have received the assistance. Tucker Kennedy, Director of Communication and Public Relations for Ameren says that they have heard regularly from customers struggling to pay their bills: “We are hearing from customers every day, people from all walks of life – customers who have never been behind on any bill let alone their utility bill, who have found themselves furloughed or lost their jobs through no fault of their own and they are suddenly out of work. This [pandemic] came on really quick, and it did exert a real financial toll on customers. Some customers have had to make some really difficult choices about what to do with the income that they have. We recognized early on that we wanted to step up and provide some support and resources to help those customers, and we did some things in the beginning [of the pandemic] to offer a little bit of relief.”
Help is based on income guidelines on a sliding scale. Kennedy says the program is meant to help people who have exhausted all of their options: “It’s providing direct bill payment assistance to qualified customers. There is income guidelines. There is a couple of different pools [of financial help] available. These are for customers who, let’s say they have exhausted their options through the state LIHEAP organization and received funding. They can contact us, and we can look at their current situation and we can determine whether they are eligible. If they are, we are able to apply that bill assistance directly to their account. For more moderate income customers, we also have a program for them as well that’s administered through another energy assistance foundation. Without getting too deep into the details, the good news is that there are resources available for customers who have been struggling to pay their energy bills.”
Visit AmerenIllinois.com/Recovery for detailed income eligibility guidelines or call 1-800-755-5000.