ComEd and Partners Announce Expanded Bill Payment Assistance Efforts
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Includes new CARE Helping Hand initiative, assistance fairs, and support for pending legislation to help families pay electric bills CHICAGO, March 16 /PRNewswire/ -- ComEd understands that with the economic downturn, some customers are facing serious challenges paying their bills some for the first time and they may not know where to turn for help. To assist these customers, ComEd today announced a new two-week initiative named CARE Helping Hand, as well as a suite of assistance programs and community outreach events that will provide immediate relief, help customers address past balances, and avoid service suspension. ComEd also announced its support for pending new legislation introduced by State Sen. Kimberly Lightford and State Rep. Marlow Colvin that will provide long-term assistance for low-income families through a program that enables them to pay a portion of their electric bills, based on their income. State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, State Rep. Marlow Colvin, City of Chicago officials, and additional agencies including CEDA, PLCCA, Casa Central, and El Valor joined ComEd representatives at a news conference at Malcolm X College to share the news. "ComEd wants to make sure customers know about - and sign up for - the $15 million available in 2009 through our CARE program," said Anne Pramaggiore, executive vice president of Customer Operations, Regulatory and External Affairs, ComEd. "Through the CARE Helping Hand initiative and upcoming assistance fairs, ComEd is working to provide immediate solutions for customers facing troubling financial circumstances. Looking forward, ComEd supports a longer-term solution in legislation proposed by State Sen. Lightford and State Rep. Colvin to help customers most in need." With the winter moratorium ending, ComEd wants to do everything possible to help customers maintain their electric service. Customers who are having problems paying their electric bills are encouraged to visit ComEd.com for information, attend an assistance fair or call 1-888-806-CARE (2273) to speak to a customer service representative who can provide assistance and payment options. CARE Helping Hand Initiative - Sign up by March 27 In this program, customers have two plan options: -- Pay 90 percent of the bill amount owed and ComEd will credit the remaining 10 percent, or -- Pay 25 percent of the amount owed (10 percent if they are heat-related customers) and avoid disconnection by agreeing to a payment plan. The remaining balance can be paid over time without incurring any additional interest charges or fees. This new program is a one-time offer designed to provide some immediate relief to customers currently facing disconnection. It is open to any ComEd customer who has received a disconnection notice, regardless of household income. Customers applying for the CARE Helping Hand program at an assistance fair should bring the following documentation: 1. A disconnection notice 2. Payment for 90 percent of the outstanding balance to receive the 10 percent credit, or 3. Payment for 25 percent of the outstanding balance and agreement to participate in an interest-free payment plan. Payment can be made via check, credit card, or debit card. 4. Proof of identification ascustomer of record. (Gas, water, or telephone bills, photo ID, etc.) 5. A copy of the customer's current ComEd bill (within 30 days) Customers who sign up by phone need to provide a ComEd account number. Payment can be made via check, credit card, or debit card. Assistance Fairs ComEd is hosting assistance fairs throughout its service territory where customer service representatives will be available to register customers for the CARE Helping Hand program, as well as other assistance and payment options. The first fairs will be held: Friday, March 20 - 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 21 - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Malcolm X College, Cultural Center Olive Harvey College gymnasium 1900 W. Van Buren Street 10001 S. Woodlawn ComEd and CEDA will have representatives on-site to process applications and to answer questions about assistance and payment options. Percentage of Income Payment Plan ComEd is supporting new pending legislation the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) introduced by State Senator Kimberly Lightford and State Representative Marlow Colvin. This legislation will allow eligible customers to pay a percentage of their electric bills based on their income It will deliver vital assistance to struggling individuals and low-income families by lowering their energy bill payments, and creating manageable monthly payments for those most in need. "The number of customers unable to pay their electric bills has increased over the past year and this legislation will assist those forced into hardship due to mounting bills or job loss," Lightford said. "Providing incentives for good payment behavior and encouraging responsibility also will improve the quality of life for many, and provide long-term value to Illinois." "Sen. Lightford and I share similar views about the importance of energy assistance and we hope to promote simultaneous consideration of these important measures in Springfield, said Colvin. "For the benefit of all Illinois residents, we must establish a permanent and sustainable assistance fund." Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), one of the nation's largest electric utilities with approximately 5.4 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across Northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state's population. Additional ComEd Programs and Bill Payment Options Residential Special Hardship - One-time variable grant of up to $1,000 Eligibility: Proof of job loss, illness, military deployment, disability, family crisis or senior citizen hardship; household income up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($84,800 for a family of four). Documentation Required: Medical bills, military deployment; layoff notice; Medicaid/Kidcare card, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) documents; pay stubs or social security benefit letter; copy of current ComEd bill; identification as customer of record. (Gas, water, or telephone bills, photo ID, etc.) Program Dates: Jan. 1 or until funds are depleted. To Apply: Contact your local Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) administering agency. Summer Assistance - $30 bill credit (equivalent to running one, medium-sized air conditioner for 250 hours, or three to four hours per day during the summer months). Eligibility: Household income less than 200 percent of federal poverty level ($42,400 for a family of four); not approved for LIHEAP. Documentation Required: Proof of income, identification as customer of record Program Dates: June 1 - Aug. 31 To Apply: Contact your local Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) administering agency. C.H.A.M.P (ComEd Helps Activated Military Personnel) - Special services and benefits, including a one-time cash stipend, deferred billing, extended due dates, and late charges cancellation. Eligibility: Military deployment Documentation Required: Deployment papers Program Dates: Year-round To Apply: Call ComEd CARE at 888-806-CARE (2273) Payment Plans - Spread bill payments over extended period. For eligibility and documentation required, call 1-800-Edison1. Program Dates: Year-round Budget Billing - Spreads bill amounts more evenly throughout the year to avoid significant bill fluctuations during summer or winter months. Eligibility: Open to all ComEd customers. Documentation Required: ComEd account number and identification as customer of record. Program Dates: Year-round Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) - Provides utility payment assistance. Eligibility: Household income up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level. For documentation needed and program dates, visit www.liheapillinois.com. Smart Ideas - Information and incentives for customers to lower their energy costs and better manage their electricity usage. Eligibility: Open to all ComEd customers. Documentation Required: None Program Dates: Year-round; for more information visit www.ComEd.com. SOURCE ComEd ComEd Media Relations, +1-312-394-3500