As more and more Illinoisans are forced to stay home from work by the COVID-19 outbreak, paying utility bills is a looming concern among many. Many will be faced with a combination of declining income and increased energy bills because of increased energy consumption while staying home.
A dozen states around the country have ordered utilities to stop service disconnections during the COVID-19 outbreak and the Illinois Commerce Commission is planning to later today. At the urging of Governor Pritzker last week, a number of Illinois utilities have already issued their own response. Pausing disconnections makes sense: its critical to public health that everyone stay home as much as possible. We shouldn't force people out of their homes to stay warm, be able to cook food, connect to the internet, or power electronics.
Responses from Illinois utilities to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Most major Illinois gas, electricity, and water utility companies have decided to suspend service disconnections until May 1. Some have also agreed to waive late payment fees in that time period.
- Most major telecommunications & internet providers have signed the Federal Communications Commission’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge”. This entails a 60-day moratorium on disconnections & late fee forgiveness that will end May 12.
There is variation in the nature & time frame of these utilities’ responses--some have agreed to do more than others, some have not issued statements at all yet. Please consult this spreadsheet to identify your own utilities’ response as of today. A full list of participating telecommunications companies can be found here.
For families & friends outside Illinois, here is a live-updated list of major utilities responses throughout the U.S.
Finally, we recommend that you keep an eye out for phishing scams from sources pretending to be your utility company. If you get a suspicious call or email, reach out to your utility’s office to confirm before clicking on any links or giving out any personal information.