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New PIPP Gets Underway in Illinois

September 13, 2011 -- For the first time, some LIHEAP clients will have the option of choosing between the state's traditional Direct Vendor Payment (DVP) plan or the new Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). The PIPP is available to eligible LIHEAP clients who are customers of Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas.

Under the PIPP, participants will pay no more than 6 percent of their incomes for gas and electric service, will receive a monthly benefit towards their utility bill, and receive a reduction in overdue payments for every on-time payment they make by the bill due date. The traditional DVP plan is a one-time payment.

Program funding will come through LIHEAP and an existing meters charge that has provided supplemental funding for low-income energy assistance and energy efficiency in Illinois for over a decade.  Legislation passed in 2009 authorized the PIPP and increased the meters charge by about 20 percent, from 40 cents to 48 cents for residential customers and a comparable increase for commercial/industrial customers

Under the arrearage reduction component, participants who make their monthly PIPP payments on time will receive a monthly credit amounting to 1/12th of their past due bills, up to $1,000 per year for gas bills and the same amount for electric bills.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the LIHEAP and weatherization grantee,  administers the PIPP in coordination with LIHEAP.

State officials said that due to the start-up of PIPP, LIHEAP clients may experience longer wait times when applying for assistance, but should ultimately receive better service delivery.

Source: newspapers, DCEO