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Ameren Illinois Utilities Encourage Customers with Outstanding Balances to Seek Assistance, Arrange Payment Plan
Moratorium on disconnecting delinquent electric customers ends next week

Sep 28, 2007

The Ameren Illinois utilities today encouraged residential customers with outstanding balances on their accounts to contact their local utility to enter into a payment arrangement, and their local assistance agencies to apply for financial aid. Residential customers who fail to do so will be subject to having their electricity disconnected.

“We want to work with customers to resolve their past due accounts,” said Stan Ogden, Vice President of Customer Service and Public Relations for the Ameren Illinois utilities. “We are committed to keeping electricity and natural gas flowing for every customer, and have payment and assistance programs available for those who have had difficulty paying their utility bills this past year.”

There are alternatives for customers who are unable to pay their outstanding balance. They can: 

- Call their Ameren Illinois utility to establish a bill-paying arrangement. Customers will be required to make a down payment to initiate a deferred payment plan. Customers interested in a deferred payment plan should call: AmerenIP 1-800-750-7026; AmerenCIPS and AmerenCILCO, 1-877-263-7363. 

- Seek energy assistance from 27 authorized Community Action Agencies that administer LIHEAP (Low-Income, Home Energy Assistance Program) funds throughout the state. Earlier this month, the Ameren Illinois utilities unveiled a $15 million effort aimed at assisting residential electric customers hit hardest by higher electric bills. The Bill Payment Assistance Program and the Residential Hardship Assistance Program will provide grants and bill-paying aid to low-income customers and to those with financial and unique hardships.

Residential customers must meet the eligibility guidelines for energy assistance. Customers can call 1-800-252-8643 to find their local Community Action Agency, where they can obtain more information or apply for energy assistance. For complete program guidelines, customers should call their Ameren Illinois utility (AmerenIP 1-800-750-7026; AmerenCIPS and AmerenCILCO, 1-877-263-7363).

Residences initially targeted to have service terminated are those in which the users of electricity are not identified by the utility as the current customer, have unpaid balances for three months or more, and have failed to enter into a bill-paying arrangement. The Ameren Illinois utilities will disconnect those electric residential customers beginning next Thursday, Oct. 4. In all cases, bill-paying credits already have been applied to accounts, but past-due balances remain.

The following week, disconnections will proceed for customers who have not paid a bill in three months, have a debt of more than $2,000, and are not honoring or have not established a bill-paying agreement. Thereafter, disconnections will proceed for other customers with significant outstanding balances.

Customers with unique medical conditions or special needs who have received a disconnection notice should immediately call the Ameren Illinois utilities to avoid having their service terminated.

“Disconnecting service is a last resort,” Ogden said. “We encourage customers with an outstanding balance to call their local utility to make arrangements to settle their account.”

As part of a self-imposed moratorium, the Ameren Illinois utilities have not disconnected residential electric customers for nine months. In September, disconnections began for a few gas-only customers who were not eligible for credits or checks.

Disconnections will occur only after customers have been contacted – some with written notices and phone calls -- by the Ameren Illinois utilities and a final disconnection notice has been issued. Customers who are disconnected and want service restored should call their local utility.

The Ameren Illinois utilities will not be disconnecting residential electric service between December 1 and March 31.

The Ameren Illinois utilities offer customers a series of bill payment options. They include Budget Billing, which spreads level payments over 12 months; deferred payment, which allows customers to pay past-due bills over time; and the automatic payment plan that allows customers to electronically deduct their month’s bill from their bank account. Customers can also pay online or by telephone with a credit or debit card.

The Ameren Illinois utilities (AmerenCILCO, AmerenCIPS and AmerenIP) serve 1.2 million electric and more than 800,000 natural gas customers in Illinois. 

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CONTACT: Media, Shelley Epstein, +1-309-370-5945 (Peoria), or Erica
Abbett, +1-314-206-0646, (Metro East), or Natalie Hemmer, +1-217-424-7541
(Decatur), or Neal Johnson, +1-309-677-5516 (Peoria), or Leigh Morris,
+1-217-535-5228 (Springfield)


 
 
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