(305 ILCS 20/18)
Financial assistance; payment plans.
(a) The Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP or PIP Plan) is hereby created as a mandatory bill payment assistance program for low-income residential customers of utilities serving more than 100,000 retail customers as of January 1, 2009. The PIP Plan will:
(1) bring participants' gas and electric bills into
the range of affordability;
(2) provide incentives for participants to make
(3) encourage participants to reduce usage and
participate in conservation and energy efficiency measures that reduce the customer's bill and payment requirements; and
(4) identify participants whose homes are most in
(b) For purposes of this Section:
(1) "LIHEAP" means the energy assistance program
established under the Illinois Energy Assistance Act and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981.
(2) "Plan participant" is an eligible participant who
is also eligible for the PIPP and who will receive either a percentage of income payment credit under the PIPP criteria set forth in this Act or a benefit pursuant to Section 4 of this Act. Plan participants are a subset of eligible participants.
(3) "Pre-program arrears" means the amount a plan
participant owes for gas or electric service at the time the participant is determined to be eligible for the PIPP or the program set forth in Section 4 of this Act.
(4) "Eligible participant" means any person who has
applied for, been accepted and is receiving residential service from a gas or electric utility and who is also eligible for LIHEAP.
(c) The PIP Plan shall be administered as follows:
(1) The Department shall coordinate with Local
Administrative Agencies (LAAs), to determine eligibility for the Illinois Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) pursuant to the Energy Assistance Act, provided that eligible income shall be no more than 150% of the poverty level. Applicants will be screened to determine whether the applicant's projected payments for electric service or natural gas service over a 12-month period exceed the criteria established in this Section. To maintain the financial integrity of the program, the Department may limit eligibility to households with income below 125% of the poverty level.
(2) The Department shall establish the percentage of
income formula to determine the amount of a monthly credit, not to exceed $150 per month per household, not to exceed $1,800 annually, that will be applied to PIP Plan participants' utility bills based on the portion of the bill that is the responsibility of the participant provided that the percentage shall be no more than a total of 6% of the relevant income for gas and electric utility bills combined, but in any event no less than $10 per month, unless the household does not pay directly for heat, in which case its payment shall be 2.4% of income but in any event no less than $5 per month. The Department may establish a minimum credit amount based on the cost of administering the program and may deny credits to otherwise eligible participants if the cost of administering the credit exceeds the actual amount of any monthly credit to a participant. If the participant takes both gas and electric service, 66.67% of the credit shall be allocated to the entity that provides the participant's primary energy supply for heating. Each participant shall enter into a levelized payment plan for, as applicable, gas and electric service and such plans shall be implemented by the utility so that a participant's usage and required payments are reviewed and adjusted regularly, but no more frequently than quarterly. Nothing in this Section is intended to prohibit a customer, who is otherwise eligible for LIHEAP, from participating in the program described in Section 4 of this Act. Eligible participants who receive such a benefit shall be considered plan participants and shall be eligible to participate in the Arrearage Reduction Program described in item (5) of this subsection (c).
(3) The Department shall remit, through the LAAs, to
the utility or participating alternative supplier that portion of the plan participant's bill that is not the responsibility of the participant. In the event that the Department fails to timely remit payment to the utility, the utility shall be entitled to recover all costs related to such nonpayment through the automatic adjustment clause tariffs established pursuant to Section 16-111.8 and Section 19-145 of the Public Utilities Act. For purposes of this item (3) of this subsection (c), payment is due on the date specified on the participant's bill. The Department, the Department of Revenue and LAAs shall adopt processes that provide for the timely payment required by this item (3) of this subsection (c).
(4) A plan participant is responsible for all actual
charges for utility service in excess of the PIPP credit. Pre-program arrears that are included in the Arrearage Reduction Program described in item (5) of this subsection (c) shall not be included in the calculation of the levelized payment plan. Emergency or crisis assistance payments shall not affect the amount of any PIPP credit to which a participant is entitled.
(5) Electric and gas utilities subject to this
Section shall implement an Arrearage Reduction Program (ARP) for plan participants as follows: for each month that a plan participant timely pays his or her utility bill, the utility shall apply a credit to a portion of the participant's pre-program arrears, if any, equal to one-twelfth of such arrearage provided that the total amount of arrearage credits shall equal no more than $1,000 annually for each participant for gas and no more than $1,000 annually for each participant for electricity. In the third year of the PIPP, the Department, in consultation with the Policy Advisory Council established pursuant to Section 5 of this Act, shall determine by rule an appropriate per participant total cap on such amounts, if any. Those plan participants participating in the ARP shall not be subject to the imposition of any additional late payment fees on pre-program arrears covered by the ARP. In all other respects, the utility shall bill and collect the monthly bill of a plan participant pursuant to the same rules, regulations, programs and policies as applicable to residential customers generally. Participation in the Arrearage Reduction Program shall be limited to the maximum amount of funds available as set forth in subsection (f) of Section 13 of this Act. In the event any donated funds under Section 13 of this Act are specifically designated for the purpose of funding the ARP, the Department shall remit such amounts to the utilities upon verification that such funds are needed to fund the ARP. Nothing in this Section shall preclude a utility from continuing to implement, and apply credits under, an ARP in the event that the PIPP or LIHEAP is suspended due to lack of funding such that the plan participant does not receive a benefit under either the PIPP or LIHEAP.
(5.5) In addition to the ARP described in paragraph
(5) of this subsection (c), utilities may also implement a Supplemental Arrearage Reduction Program (SARP) for eligible participants who are not able to become plan participants due to PIPP timing or funding constraints. If a utility elects to implement a SARP, it shall be administered as follows: for each month that a SARP participant timely pays his or her utility bill, the utility shall apply a credit to a portion of the participant's pre-program arrears, if any, equal to one-twelfth of such arrearage, provided that the utility may limit the total amount of arrearage credits to no more than $1,000 annually for each participant for gas and no more than $1,000 annually for each participant for electricity. SARP participants shall not be subject to the imposition of any additional late payment fees on pre-program arrears covered by the SARP. In all other respects, the utility shall bill and collect the monthly bill of a SARP participant under the same rules, regulations, programs, and policies as applicable to residential customers generally. Participation in the SARP shall be limited to the maximum amount of funds available as set forth in subsection (f) of Section 13 of this Act. In the event any donated funds under Section 13 of this Act are specifically designated for the purpose of funding the SARP, the Department shall remit such amounts to the utilities upon verification that such funds are needed to fund the SARP.
(6) The Department may terminate a plan participant's
eligibility for the PIP Plan upon notification by the utility that the participant's monthly utility payment is more than 45 days past due.
(7) The Department, in consultation with the Policy
Advisory Council, may adjust the number of PIP Plan participants annually, if necessary, to match the availability of funds. Any plan participant who qualifies for a PIPP credit under a utility's PIPP shall be entitled to participate in and receive a credit under such utility's ARP for so long as such utility has ARP funds available, regardless of whether the customer's participation under another utility's PIPP or ARP has been curtailed or limited because of a lack of funds.
(8) The Department shall fully implement the PIPP at
the earliest possible date it is able to effectively administer the PIPP. Within 90 days of the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 96th General Assembly, the Department shall, in consultation with utility companies, participating alternative suppliers, LAAs and the Illinois Commerce Commission (Commission), issue a detailed implementation plan which shall include detailed testing protocols and analysis of the capacity for implementation by the LAAs and utilities. Such consultation process also shall address how to implement the PIPP in the most cost-effective and timely manner, and shall identify opportunities for relying on the expertise of utilities, LAAs and the Commission. Following the implementation of the testing protocols, the Department shall issue a written report on the feasibility of full or gradual implementation. The PIPP shall be fully implemented by September 1, 2011, but may be phased in prior to that date.
(9) As part of the screening process established
under item (1) of this subsection (c), the Department and LAAs shall assess whether any energy efficiency or demand response measures are available to the plan participant at no cost, and if so, the participant shall enroll in any such program for which he or she is eligible. The LAAs shall assist the participant in the applicable enrollment or application process.
(10) Each alternative retail electric and gas
supplier serving residential customers shall elect whether to participate in the PIPP or ARP described in this Section. Any such supplier electing to participate in the PIPP shall provide to the Department such information as the Department may require, including, without limitation, information sufficient for the Department to determine the proportionate allocation of credits between the alternative supplier and the utility. If a utility in whose service territory an alternative supplier serves customers contributes money to the ARP fund which is not recovered from ratepayers, then an alternative supplier which participates in ARP in that utility's service territory shall also contribute to the ARP fund in an amount that is commensurate with the number of alternative supplier customers who elect to participate in the program.
(d) The Department, in consultation with the Policy Advisory Council, shall develop and implement a program to educate customers about the PIP Plan and about their rights and responsibilities under the percentage of income component. The Department, in consultation with the Policy Advisory Council, shall establish a process that LAAs shall use to contact customers in jeopardy of losing eligibility due to late payments. The Department shall ensure that LAAs are adequately funded to perform all necessary educational tasks.
(e) The PIPP shall be administered in a manner which ensures that credits to plan participants will not be counted as income or as a resource in other means-tested assistance programs for low-income households or otherwise result in the loss of federal or State assistance dollars for low-income households.
(f) In order to ensure that implementation costs are minimized, the Department and utilities shall work together to identify cost-effective ways to transfer information electronically and to employ available protocols that will minimize their respective administrative costs as follows:
(1) The Commission may require utilities to provide
such information on customer usage and billing and payment information as required by the Department to implement the PIP Plan and to provide written notices and communications to plan participants.
(2) Each utility and participating alternative
supplier shall file annual reports with the Department and the Commission that cumulatively summarize and update program information as required by the Commission's rules. The reports shall track implementation costs and contain such information as is necessary to evaluate the success of the PIPP.
(3) The Department and the Commission shall have the
authority to promulgate rules and regulations necessary to execute and administer the provisions of this Section.
(g) Each utility shall be entitled to recover reasonable administrative and operational costs incurred to comply with this Section from the Supplemental Low Income Energy Assistance Fund. The utility may net such costs against monies it would otherwise remit to the Funds, and each utility shall include in the annual report required under subsection (f) of this Section an accounting for the funds collected.
(Source: P.A. 99-906, eff. 6-1-17