New State Utility Agreement Helps Financially Strapped Customers Pay Bills

By Benjamin Cox on June 19, 2020 at 5:34am

The Illinois Commerce Commission have come to a stipulated agreement with the state’s utilities to offer flexible credit and collection procedures for customers hit hard by COVID-19. Since March 18th, there has been a statewide moratorium on utility disconnections and late payment fees for utility customers.

The terms of the stipulated agreement with the large utilities include extending the moratorium on disconnections and suspension of late payment fees until Illinois enters Phase 4 of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, or August 1, 2020, whichever comes first, and for an additional 30 days beyond that for most customers. The large utilities will then have 30 days to notify residential consumers with past due balances on their account about the more flexible payment and bill assistance options available and how to enroll before disconnection notices are sent.

Customers will also have the option to pay back accrued balances over an extended period of time in an agreement with utility companies. The expression of hardship can be verbal and not require documentation. Reduced down payments on deferred payment arrangements will be available. For those who have been approved for LIHEAP or other bill assistance, no down payment will be required. Utilities will continue the current practice of not reporting delinquent accounts to credit bureaus and reporting agencies.

The ICC has also issued a directive to all utility companies in the state to report data by zip code about monthly disconnection, credit and collections data so that the commission may evaluate the impact on various communities.