If you’re struggling to pay your utility bills during this public health crisis, CUB has some guidance on what steps to take.
1) Call Your Utility:
As the utility company is the entity issuing the bill and the only entity with access to your account, your first call—no matter the issue—should always be to your utility. This is especially true now when many utilities have consumer protections that are available to customers who reach out to them directly.
Contact your utility, express financial hardship and ask what consumer protections they offer. Those protections include:
- A moratorium on shut-offs until April 1, 2021. (Note: Since this blog was written, the moratorium has been extended to all customers. BUT we still recommend you call your utility to get on a plan to pay off your bills.)
- Payment plans that allow you to pay off your debt with the company in equal monthly installments for up to 24-months. (Not all companies offer this, but it is an important detail to check.)
- A bill-payment assistance program–if you have already applied for funding from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) already.
- Call your utility companies at these numbers:
- Ameren Illinois – 1-800-755-5000
- Aqua Illinois – 1-877-987-2782
- ComEd – 1-800-334-7661
- Illinois American Water – 1-800-422-2782
- Nicor Gas – 1-888-642-6748
- North Shore Gas – 1-866-556-6004
- Peoples Gas – 1-866-556-6001
- Utilities Inc. – 1-800-831-2359
2) Call LIHEAP
If you are in need of financial assistance to help pay your gas and electric bills, start with LIHEAP, 1-877-411-9276 (WARM). If you do not qualify or are in need of additional assistance, the utility also provides a bill-payment assistance program but you MUST try to apply for LIHEAP first. (Here are our infographics about LIHEAP benefits, in English and Spanish.)
3) Call CUB.
If you don’t feel you have been given complete information by your utility, contact the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), at 1-800-669-5556, or through its online complaint form: https://www.citizensutilityboard.org/complaint-form/