Governor expands emergency utility
assistance to qualifying applicants
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[APRIL 19, 2005]
CHICAGO -- Acting
at the direction of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, the state's low-income
energy assistance program will step in and provide emergency energy
assistance grants to income-eligible households before their heat
source is cut off.
"Common sense dictates that if a person
is eligible for energy assistance, we should take action and prevent
them from being disconnected from their heat source, instead of
waiting until after they have suffered through the hardship of
having their utility service disconnected," the governor said.
The Department of Public Aid's Low
Income Home Energy Assistance Program already provides some
assistance to help low-income families maintain their energy
service. Also, LIHEAP provides emergency assistance grants to
restore energy service after it has been disconnected due to
The governor directed the Department
of Public Aid to expand eligibility for emergency assistance
payments to include income-qualified utility customers whose home
heating service is slated for disconnection.
"In the past, we have often heard
that the state can't change the way it provides a particular service
because ‘that's the way we've always done it,'" the governor said.
"Well, that excuse doesn't fly in this administration."
"LIHEAP is an excellent program
assisting those most in need," said state Rep. Edward Acevedo. "I am
pleased that this program will provide energy assistance to a group
of deserving families when they'll need it most."
"With ever-increasing utility bills,
low-income seniors and families are struggling to make ends meet,"
said state Rep. Marlow Colvin. "This grant will keep many people
from having to make the difficult choice between paying for basic
needs such as food or medicine and paying their utility bills."
[to top of second column in this article]
Peoples Energy is supporting the
implementation of the new policy, which began Monday. The Department
of Public Aid is coordinating with other utilities so that they will
soon begin notifying the state about imminent disconnections.
Utility customers facing disconnection should contact the local
agency administering LIHEAP in their area to apply for benefits.
Ameren and the Illinois Valley
Economic Development Corporation successfully carried out a pilot
project this year to proactively reach out to the utility's
customers who were within days of losing their energy service. In
the project, customers facing a loss of service were offered the
opportunity to apply for regular LIHEAP benefits.
Since Sept. 1, 2004, the Department
of Public Aid has provided energy assistance to more than 295,000
households. Almost $10 million of the $152 million allocated for
energy assistance payments is still available. LIHEAP's local
administering agencies will continue to accept applications for
benefits through April 30 or until funds are exhausted. For more
information and to locate local agencies, visit
[News release from the governor's