Lisa Madigan the Attorney General of Illinois released a helpful pamphlet regarding your rights as a consumer when it comes to gas and electric bills. As we are getting onto fall it seems like a perfect time to bring this up.
Restrictions on terminating service
Between December 1st and March 31st, a gas or electric public utility cannot terminate heating service for non-payment unless all the following is true.
- The customer has been offered a payment plan
- The customer has refused to enter into a payment plan
- The customer has received the required notice
- The outdoor temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
Regulations of Notice
During the months of November through March, a gas or electric public utility must notify the customer of it’s intentions to terminate or cut off services by US Mail at least 8 days prior to termination. Alternatively if they deliver the notice themselves they must give at least 5 days notice prior to termination.
Termination of gas or electric service where such service is the only source of heating is prohibited on any day that the National Weather Service forecast for the following 24 hours is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below; termination is also prohibited on any day preceding a holiday or weekend where the forecast for any day during the holiday or weekend is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
If you get into this situation, we would recommend that you call the gas and electric utility to determine if shut-offs are a possibility when the temperature rises again.
Illinois Commerce Commission rules also require that utilities not shut off residential service if the utility has received a valid illness certificate. An illness certificate is a document from a licensed physician indicating that shutting off heat to your home would worsen an existing medical condition or create a medical emergency for a permanent resident of the home.
Illness certificates are good for one month and can be renewed by a doctor or the Board of Health for an additional month. As always, ask your utility if you have questions on how to submit a certificate of illness.
If your falling behind on your payments, you may contact the customer service department of your gas or electric company and request a payment plan or deferred billing plan. You will want to make sure you have your customer service number and account information, all of which should be easily found on your bill.
Many of these plans permit customers to spread utility costs out over several months or even a year.
At Four Seasons we hope that no one out there falls into a situation needing them to need these protections. However, if you find yourself in a position needing it we want everyone to be safe and know there rights.