During the winter months, (December 1 through March 31) the electric and gas utilities are prohibited from shutting off service necessary to heat the residence unless the utility has first offered the customer a deferred payment agreement and a levelized payment plan. The maximum down payment which the utility can demand for a deferred payment agreement in this situation is 10% of the amount due. In a levelized plan, the customer pays for current service in approximately the same dollar amount every month. In addition, the utility must provide the customer threatened with shut off with names and numbers of agencies that help people pay their utility bills.
If you receive a winter shut off notice, you have six business days from the date of the notice before the utility company can act. You must move quickly. Talk to the company about it. If you get no results, contact an attorney immediately. Don’t wait until your utilities are shut off. You have more rights before your utilities are shut off. If your utilities have been shut off, you may have to pay the entire charge to be reconnected, unless you qualify for the winter re-connection rules.
In addition, in 2008, IL HB 5086 was passed to prevent electricity shut-off during hot summer months:
Governor Rod R. Blagojevich … signed legislation to provide a safeguard for Illinois consumers, particularly seniors, by prohibiting power companies from shutting off utilities when temperatures reach 95 degrees or higher. House Bill 5086, sponsored by State Representative Robert F. Flider (D-Decatur) and State Senator Mike Jacobs (D-Moline), passed unanimously in both chambers and includes holidays and weekends. State law currently prohibits utilities from shutting off service during cold winter months, but fails to protect consumers during heat waves, which can prove to be just as dangerous to older adults.
This no cut-off requirement applies to gas or electricity when it is the sole power source for the air conditioning in the residence. It will cover all public utilities in Illinois, with the exception of Mid-America in the Quad Cities, which already has a no cut-off policy when the temperature exceeds 100 degrees, and Mount Carmel Public Utility Co., a smaller Downstate provider. HB 5086 becomes effective immediately.
This came up in conversation, and I actually found the legislation relating to it, so I’m posting here. This relates strictly to Illinois, so residents of other states should review their own state’s legislation.