CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan, joined by Governor-elect Rod Blagojevich and Reverend Jesse Jackson, today announced that $3.8 million dollars from the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been earmarked to help Illinois residents who've had their heat turned off for lack of payment.
"Illinois is among the top states in providing resources to help low income residents pay their heating bills. Working with community leaders, Peoples Energy, the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs and the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), we have made available additional LIHEAP funds to the emergency fund used to help restore heat for consumers who have disconnected service," said Governor Ryan.
“I am very gratified to have worked in partnership with Gov. Ryan to find a solution to this urgent problem. I want to thank the governor and his staff for their responsiveness to this request,” Governor-elect Blagojevich said. “I am pleased that such cooperation has led to real and speedy assistance for many families in need.”
“We are pleased to partner with Governor Ryan, the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs and the Illinois Commerce Commission to address the immediate problem facing our most vulnerable customers,” said Tom Patrick, Chairman, President and CEO of Peoples Energy.
“At the same time, we renew our urgent request to the Illinois Congressional Delegation to seek to remedy the federal funding shortfall for energy assistance when Congress reconvenes in January,” added Patrick.
Under Governor Ryan's plan, the additional $3.8 million in LIHEAP funding will be made available for use by the program's emergency fund. A total of $1.4 million in new emergency funding will go to Chicago to help reconnect approximately 2,200 LIHEAP eligible households.
As part of the plan, People's Energy has agreed to reconnect households for one third of the amount due after receipt of LIHEAP benefits, if the household was not eligible under Illinois Commerce Commission mandated winter reconnection rules.
“I want to commend ICC Chairman Kevin Wright, Peoples Energy President and CEO Tom Patrick, and DCCA Director Joseph Hannon for negotiating this plan to help Chicagoans who are without heat in these cold temperatures,” Governor Ryan said. “I want to thank Governor-elect Blagojevich and Reverend Jackson for their strong leadership in working with my administration to solve this problem. We hope this will be a relief this winter to low-income Chicago and Illinois Residents.”
During the current federal fiscal year, more than $127.5 million is available in LIHEAP funding for eligible state residents. More than $62.5 million of the funding comes from the federal government, with the remaining $65.5 million coming from the State of Illinois.
A portion of LIHEAP money is set aside every year to help those residents whose heat has been discontinued. Prior to today's announcement, a total of $9.7 million was earmarked for emergency funds from the state's total LIHEAP appropriation, with $3.9 million set aside to assist residents in Chicago. However, the emergency funds for Chicago and other areas such as Rockford, Decatur and Danville have been depleted, which led to today's decision.
LIHEAP is administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA).