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Hastings: Utility assistance is necessary for COVID-19 recovery

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FRANKFORT – The Illinois Commerce Commission announced the decision to approve several consumer protection measures during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, several of which State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Frankfort) called for as leader of the Senate’s Energy and Public Utilities working group this past legislative session.

“Throughout March and April, I met with my colleagues on the Senate’s Energy and Public Utilities working group and numerous stakeholders. Our charge was very simple: we had to arrive at a solution to protect consumers,” Hastings said. “I’m thankful that Chairman Zalewski and the ICC listened to our recommendations allowing us to arrive at a helpful solution.”

Details of the comprehensive consumer protection package include:

  • Extending the suspension of disconnections for 30 days beyond Illinois’ entry into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, or Aug. 1, 2020, whichever comes first;
  • Flexible payment options once that time is up;
  • Bill assistance for eligible low-income customers;
  • Expanded fee relief.

This agreement covers several of the state’s major utility companies, including Aqua Illinois, Illinois-American Water Company, Utility Services of Illinois, Ameren Illinois, Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas Company, Peoples Gas and ComEd.

“I appreciate the cooperation of these companies and their dedication to their customers,” Hastings said. “They understand as well as I do that COVID-19 is not going to simply fade away, and even when it does, the recovery process will be difficult for so many. Extending moratoriums on shutoffs and providing additional financial relief is our moral obligation.”