Ameren, Commonwealth Edison and other state utilities have agreed to extend a moratorium on residential disconnections until March 31 for low income customers and those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The voluntary agreement by the utilities is for a much longer time than a moratorium extension announced earlier this month. At that time, most of the state’s utilities agreed to extend the disconnect moratorium only until the end of September. Ameren and ComEd only agreed to extend it until September 10.
The latest agreement comes only days after the Illinois Commerce Commission sent a letter to the utilities asking them to extend the moratorium until the end of March.
"Illinois citizens are facing extraordinary challenges due to the pandemic," ICC Chair Carrie Zalewski said in a statement. "Low income families and those impacted by COVID-19 should not have to fear losing basic services like electricity, heat or fresh water. The voluntary actions by these utilities will provide our most vulnerable citizens with some peace of mind, especially as cold weather approaches."
The moratorium covers low-income residential customers who qualify for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program and to those who are financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ICC is stressing that customers need to call their utility company if they have missed payments or are struggling to pay a bill. It also said deferred payment arrangements are available to both residential and small business customers having difficulty making payments at this time.
In addition to Ameren and ComEd, utilities who agreed to extend the disconnect moratorium until March 31 include Aqua Illinois, Illinois American Water, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, and Utility Services of Illinois.
MidAmerican is extending the moratorium for LIHEAP-qualified residential customers and "is further considering additional options to help their customers. ..." the ICC said.
Nicor Gas and Liberty Utilities have agreed to extend the moratorium for all residential customers until March 31.
City Water, Light and Power in Springfield has a disconnect moratorium in place for both residential and commercial customers until the end of September, said spokeswoman Amber Sabin. It hasn’t been determined what will happen after that.
However, Sabin said service won’t be disconnected for a customer that gets on a payment plan. Also, CWLP, like other utilities, does not disconnect customers during winter months.
The five ICC commissioners sent a letter to the state’s utilities Friday asking for the longer extension because the coronavirus continues to be a major problem in the state. At the time, the state had confirmed over 240,000 cases and there were 30 counties that were under warnings because of increasing COVID-19 cases.
The commissioners asked that the utilities extend the moratorium to align with winter heating rules that prohibit gas and electric disconnections from December 1 until March 31.
Contact Doug Finke: firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr.