COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (WGEM) – Ameren Illinois announced Friday it is expanding relief measures to customers who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ameren officials stated under the terms of a joint agreement with the Illinois Commerce Commission, other Illinois utilities, the Attorney General's office, and consumer groups, the Ameren Illinois COVID-19 Economic Hardship Recovery Program will offer flexible payment options and direct bill payment assistance to customers struggling to pay their energy bills.
This assistance comes as stakeholders and members of the Illinois General Assembly map out the state’s energy future and look to stimulate economic recovery in Downstate Illinois.
"The package of economic relief we're announcing today is another example of what can be accomplished when stakeholders work together to benefit the 1.2 million customers Ameren Illinois serves in 1,200 Downstate communities," said Richard J. Mark, Chairman and President, Ameren Illinois. "Fortunately, Illinois has one of the most customer-centric and progressive energy frameworks in the country. The groundbreaking Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA) – or Smart Grid Law – has made Illinois a national leader in smart grid development and energy innovation. It also established a cost-recovery mechanism through performance based formula ratemaking that has kept rates low, created thousands of jobs, and most importantly during this COVID-19 pandemic, is allowing us to develop creative payment programs and offer direct financial assistance to our customers."
“Ameren Illinois customers from all walks of life are facing unprecedented economic hardship and we're fortunate to be in a position to support them,” Mark said. "I was glad to see that the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), the Attorney General's office, and other consumer groups also recognize the benefits of performance-based ratemaking and advocated alongside us for this vital COVID-19 assistance.”
Key provisions woven into the Ameren Illinois COVID-19 Hardship Recovery program include:
- LIHEAP – energy assistance from the State of Illinois for households with incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. Details at HelpIllinoisFamilies.com.
- Warm Neighbors Cool Friends – customers not eligible for LIHEAP may qualify for a grant from this non-profit organization. Eligibility is based on household size and 30-days household income at or below 300% of the federal poverty level. Find an agency at WarmNeighborsCoolFriends.org.
Ameren Illinois' Fresh Start Program
- Bill Payment Assistance – Ameren Illinois will allocate up to $8 million to help qualified residential customers to pay down an existing account balance. Award amounts will be determined by income, household size, and amount owed, with a maximum of $700 applied to a customer's account. Program will be available in July.
- Extended Payment Agreements – Customers who still have a balance remaining after all applicable energy assistance has been applied can establish an extended payment schedule. Repayment terms may be extended up to 24 months. Call 800.755.5000 for details.
Service Reconnections – Services for residential customers whose power was disconnected for non-payment up to one year prior to June 18, can request to have service reconnected at the same location. No reconnection fees will be required. Call 800.755.5000.
“Along with this special COVID-19 assistance, we continue to invest in our communities, put people to work, open doors for more minority suppliers to do business with us, and build the clean energy future in our service territory,” Mark said. “Illinois is a great state, and what makes it so great is that we have diverse communities, diverse economies and diverse needs. Ameren Illinois will continue to work for fair, reasonable energy policies that deliver real, measurable benefits for everyone in Downstate Illinois.”
Information on the funding and assistance programs under the COVID-19 Economic Hardship Recovery program can be accessed at AmerenIllinois.com/Recovery.