CHICAGO — With the start of spring and an increase in temperatures, the end of the winter moratorium on service disconnections for residential customers has arrived.
To help customers in financial hardship who may be facing disconnection, ComEd this week announced it has dedicated $10 million in assistance funds for the second consecutive year. These dollars are part of a five-year, $50 million commitment to help ComEd customers struggling to pay their utility bills, a result of Smart Grid law enacted in 2011.
“We realize some customers fall on hard times and need assistance with paying their monthly electric bill,” said Val Jensen, senior vice president of Customers Operations, ComEd. “This is why we want to ensure customers who are in need are aware of the assistance ComEd offers to them during these tough times.”
Last year through ComEd’s CARE programs, the utility was able to help keep the lights on for more than 32,000 customers who might have otherwise faced disconnection due to a financial hardship. The $10 million for 2013 will provide relief to customers in need and help get them back on track to managing their utility bill.
In addition, the company is running advertisements to encourage customers in need to apply for assistance.
ComEd states that a service disconnection is always the last resort, and only occurs after a lengthy process that is designed to avoid this outcome. The utility has a responsibility to all customers to keep unpaid bills as low as possible to avoid raising costs to all customers.
Customers who have received a service suspension notice can avoid a disconnection by paying the balance owed or contacting ComEd to go on a payment plan. In many cases, customers may be eligible for some of the $10 million in assistance funds that ComEd will distribute this year through its CARE programs, including:
• CHAMP (ComEd Helps Active Military Personnel) – This program provides bill-payment assistance to deployed members of the military and disabled veterans who have fallen behind on their bill and who reside within ComEd’s Northern Illinois service territory.
CHAMP offers a package of benefits, including bill payment assistance of up to $1,000 while funds are available, a deferred payment plan, extended payment due dates, exemption from late charges, deposit reduction and budget payment plans.
• Residential Special Hardship program – This initiative is intended to supplement established state-sponsored programs such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Eligible ComEd residential customers who are experiencing a hardship and who are not Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) participants can receive a grant of up to $1,500 toward their electricity bill. Grant amounts may vary while funds are available.
• Non-Profit Assistance Programs – ComEd recently extended this program to include all non-profit organizations, including churches. This program provides a one-time variable grant of up to $2,000 for 501 (c)(3) non-profit organizations that are experiencing a hardship.
ComEd offers a variety of ways for customers to access and pay their bills, including online at ComEd.com or ComEd’s free mobile app available at ComEd.com/app.
To apply for the Residential Special Hardship grant, or the state-sponsored assistance programs customers should visit a local LIHEAP Agency.
For more information on any of ComEd’s assistance programs or to enroll in ComEd’s bill-payment assistance programs, call 1-888-806-CARE (2273) or visit ComEd.Com/CARE for more information.