July 10 -- Illinois Governor Pat Quinn today signed a law that will benefit tens of thousands of low- income utility customers. Senate Bill 1918 creates a percentage of income payment plan (PIPP) option for low-income customers, caps the amount those customers pay for natural gas and electric utilities at six percent of their incomes, and expands an energy efficiency program.
“Energy costs continue to rise and Illinois families are feeling the crunch,” said Governor Quinn. “This legislation allows many working people to keep their energy costs down and use that extra money to pay for other important and basic needs.”
The bill requires utility companies to participate in bill payment assistance programs for customers through a percentage of income payment plan. The PIPP makes it possible for tens of thousands of low-income households to pay an affordable amount each month for their gas and electricity bills, allowing eligible customers to pay no more than 6 percent of their income towards their energy costs. The program targets households across the state with incomes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline.
The PIPP includes an arrearage reduction component under which participants who make their PIPP payments on time will receive credits toward their past due bills. It also will include client education to inform customers about the PIPP and about their rights and responsibilities under the program. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the LIHEAP grantee, will administer the program and it will be coordinated with LIHEAP. Limited enrollment PIPP pilots will get underway in September of 2009; the full implementation of the PIPP statewide will occur by September 2011.
Program funding will come through an existing meters charge that currently funds low-income energy assistance and energy efficiency at about $75 million annually. SB 1918 increases the meters charge by about 20 percent, from 40 cents to 48 cents for residential customers and a comparable increase for commercial/industrial customers. Utilities will also make a one-time $22 million contribution toward program costs.
Source: Governor’s Office