thermostat 072921SPRINGFIELD – A measure led by State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Frankfort) that would expand access to utility bill assistance programs was signed into law Thursday.

“Adequately cooling a home during these unforgiving summer months can be incredibly burdensome for low-income families,” Hastings said. “Parts of our country have already experienced a historic heat wave this summer. Preparing for extreme weather and giving people the ability to stay safe in their homes has never been more important.”

Under Senate Bill 265 families under 60% of the Illinois median income level would be eligible for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Percentage of Income Payment Plan. Additionally, the legislation establishes a priority application period for households with children under age 6 and extends LIHEAP and PIPP availability to all eligible low-income residents.

The legislation also encourages the PIPP program to spend at least 80% of its available annual funding and double the 2020 program participation by 2024.

LIHEAP and PIPP offer bill payment assistance to low-income residential utility customers by helping eligible households pay for their gas and electric utility service. Both programs are administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs.