CHICAGO – August 9, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn signed energy assistance bills to help reduce the burden of rising utility rates on low-income families. The legislation will expand the eligibility for low-income families to qualify for aid from the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP).
“Thanks to this legislation, thousands of hard-working, low-income families in Illinois, who did not previously qualify for assistance, will have help paying their utility bills,” said Governor Quinn.
House Bill 796, sponsored by Rep. Lisa M. Dugan (D-Bradley) and Sen. A. J. Wilhelmi (D-Joliet) expands eligibility of the LIHEAP and IHWAP from 150 to 200 percent of the federal poverty level and allows Illinois to leverage significant federal recovery dollars. The expansion of eligibility will allow 27,000 households to be served by the IHWAP alone this year, an increase of over 350 percent from 7,700 households last year.
Families are often times forced to leave their homes when landlords abandon housing programs as a result of increased energy costs, which their subsidized housing agreement forbids them from passing along to low-income residents. Senate Bill 1629, sponsored by Sen. Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) and Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), reduces the burden of rising energy costs on owners by allowing them to receive LIHEAP energy assistance and third parties to make utility payments on their behalf.
Governor Quinn also signed Senate Bill 2150, which forms the Illinois Power Agency Renewable Energy Resources Fund for use by the Illinois Power Agency to procure renewable energy resources. Sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Rep. Tom Holbrook (D-Belleville), the legislation also amends the Public Utilities Act to ensure that a facility designated as an alternative retail electric supplier receives electricity from clean coal facilities that meet certain requirements.
“Not only are we assisting Illinois families with their utility bills, we are working to ensure that energy they receive is provided from environmentally friendly, sustainable resources,” said Governor Quinn.
SB2150 passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly unanimously and was widely supported by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, alternative retail electric suppliers and environmental and renewable energy advocates such as Constellation NewEnergy, the Citizens Utility Board and the Illinois Competitive Energy Association.
For more information on LIHEAP, please visit LIHEAPIllinois.com. For more information on IHWAP, please visit WeatherizationIllinois.com.