As we approach warmer weather, many consumer protections against utility disconnection are set to be lifted March 31. Make sure to protect yourself with the following tips–and watch and share our new video.
Be proactive. If you’re having difficulty paying your bills, call your utility. Here are the direct hotlines for major Illinois utilities:
- 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
Find out about state-assistance programs, utility programs, charities and consumer-friendly payment plans that can keep you connected. In Illinois, financial assistance is available through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. Read CUB’s LIHEAP factsheet and visit our Financial Resources page.
Don’t assume you’re protected. There are regulations that prevent disconnections during extreme cold or heat, but they’re not applicable to every account and circumstance. Know your rights when it comes to disconnection:
- A utility can disconnect you WITHOUT WARNING if:
- Your utility equipment has been tampered with.
- There is no customer of record at your address.
- There is a dangerous or potentially dangerous condition, such as a gas leak.
- A utility CAN disconnect your service if you:
- Fail to pay an entire past-due bill or security deposit.
- Default on a payment plan you negotiated with the utility.
- Deny the utility access to your meter.
- A utility CANNOT disconnect your service if:
- The temperature is below 32 degrees or expected to fall below 32 degrees within the next 24-hour period and disconnection would affect your heat.
- The temperature is above 95 degrees or expected to rise above 95 degrees within the next 24-hour period (electricity only).
- On any day preceding a weekend or holiday when temperatures are expected to meet the above criteria.
- It’s between December 1 and March 31 AND if the utility accepted LIHEAP funds on the account after September 1 of the heating season.
- It’s between December 1 and March 31 and you have an electric heat account (if your primary heat source is powered by electricity).
- It’s between December 1 and March 31 and you are a service member who has just been assigned to duty.
Learn all your options to avoid disconnection. Once disconnected, utilities can demand payment in full before reconnecting you. And they might add a “reconnection deposit” and fee. If a gas or electric utility plans to disconnect your service, they must deliver a written warning to your residence, detailing how much you must pay by when to avoid shutoff and when your service will be disconnected if you don’t pay on time. You are entitled to receive a warning call 48 hours before your electricity or gas is disconnected, so make sure to keep your contact information with the utility company up to date.
If you need help understanding your disconnection rights, check out CUB’s Help Center and feel free to reach out to CUB’s Consumer Advocacy Department, 1-800-669-5556, if you have questions.