Illinois launches $300 million energy bill relief program
SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - If you’re struggling to pay energy bills right now, you’re not alone. The Pritzker administration recognized that burden and launched a new $300 million energy relief program Thursday.
Gov. JB Pritzker said every Illinoisan deserves access to reliable energy regardless of their economic status. You can now apply for relief on electric, natural gas, and propane bills through the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Anyone who earns up to two times the federal poverty level is eligible to receive support on their energy bills.
“My administration has always been - and will always be - committed to making sure that every resident has access to the services they need to keep the lights on,” Pritzker said.
The relief program sends one-time payments directly to utility providers. The amount of money varies based on the needs of each individual person or family, but Deputy Governor Andy Manar said LIHEAP recipients received an average of $1,330 per household last year.
Manar said Pritzker understands everyone is facing inflationary pressures and kept energy bill relief as a top priority.
“We can only do this when the budget is balanced in the state and we do it responsibly,” Manar said. “So, this amount of money is a record amount of money investing in relief.”
Manar explained people can apply for the energy bill assistance even if they missed the window to receive LIHEAP benefits earlier this spring. He stressed that the Pritzker administration wants the $300 million to help as many Illinois families as possible. The administration was able to help roughly 302,000 households last year and hopes to see similar success this year.
“It’s not just about a family of four,” Manar explained. “It’s also about perhaps a senior citizen who lives by themselves and wants to stay in their home and needs to pay that electric bill.”
Manar said families who meet the qualifications and provide proper documentation can receive this support until the funding runs out. The application window is open until May 31, but Manar noted that people should apply soon to see if they are eligible for relief.
For example, a family of four making $55,000 a year or less is eligible for LIHEAP funding. Meanwhile, a household with two people is eligible if they have a 30-day gross income of $3,052 or less.
|Family Size (Household)||30-Day Gross Income|
“The governor has said we are going to invest this much money in LIHEAP to meet the moment and meet the challenge,” Manar said. “Families are struggling to pay bills and the governor wants to offer assistance to those that qualify to get through this difficult time.”
You can find more information about the energy bill relief program at helpillinoisfamilies.com. People can also call 1-833-711-0374 for help in 30 different languages. Applicants can contact community action and local administering agencies for help with applications as well.
Manar said the assistance programs wouldn’t be possible without Pritzker’s leadership.
“We went so long without a budget,” Manar said. “For example, the LIHEAP program didn’t just come to a grinding halt. It was actually swept of its money. That’s money that was intended to be used mostly to help senior citizens pay electric bills. We are so far away from that today.”
Illinois also offers low-income household water assistance and programs for crisis heating-related reconnection, furnace assistance, and help with home weatherization. The federal government has also announced new initiatives to help lower energy costs for families, including federal rebates for installing energy-efficient appliances.
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