Deposits

Deposit Requirements:

  • The utility may require a deposit if as an applicant for service, you have not paid for past utility service
  • Some utilities may require a deposit based upon a credit scoring system with exemptions for LIHEAP eligible applicants and victims of identity fraud.
  • The utility may require a deposit within 45 days of the following occurrences:
    • As a customer, you have paid late during any 12 month period of the first 2 years of service:
      • Four times, if billed monthly.
      • Two times in a row, or three times, if billed every other month.
      • Twice, if billed every 3 or 6 months.
    • You have benefited from the tampering with utility equipment.
  • After you have been a customer for 2 years, the utility may not request a deposit unless:
    • You have benefitted from the tampering with utility equipment or you have been disconnected for nonpayment.
    • The amount of deposit equals no
      • more than 1/6 of the estimated annual charge for utility service.
      • Water and Sewer: No more than 1/3 of the estimated annual charge for utility service.

Refunding Deposits

  • The utility must refund your deposit plus interest after a year, unless you:
    • Were disconnected for not paying a bill.
    • Have paid late during the first 2 years of service:
      • Four times in a 12 month period, if billed monthly.
      • Two times in a row, or 3 times, if billed every other month.
      • Twice, if billed every 3 or 6 months.
    • Have paid late after the first 2 years of service:
      • Six times in a 12 month period, if billed monthly.
      • Three times, if billed every other month.
      • Twice, if billed every 3 or 6 months.
    • Have benefitted from the tampering with utility equipment.
    • Have any unpaid past due bills.
  • The refund is paid as a separate check, not as credit to your bill.
  • If your deposit is not refunded after a year of service for any of the above reasons, the utility will pay you interest annually as credit to your account.
  • You will receive a receipt for deposits paid. Keep all receipts in case any problems should arise!

Disconnecting Utility Service

Reasons For Disconnecting Your Service

  • Your bill was not paid.
  • The deposit or increased deposit amount was not paid by the due date.
  • You benefited from the tampering with company equipment.
  • The deferred payment agreement was not kept.
  • Access to company equipment was denied.
  • Hazardous health and safety conditions exist.

The Utility's Responsibilities:

  • When considering shutting off your service, the utility must:
    • Mail you a Final Notice 8 days before service shut-off or deliver the Notice 5 days prior to disconnection.
    • Not shut off service after 2 p.m. unless it is prepared to reconnect service the same day at the regular reconnection charge.
    • Not shut off gas and electric service to residential heating customers if the National Weather Service predicts 32° temperatures or less for the next 24 hours.
    • Not shut off service to a residential customer if the utility company has received a valid illness certificate.

Disconnection Of Utility Service In The Winter

  • DECEMBER 1 TO MARCH 31
    Before shutting off service to residential heating customers, the utility must once during the winter months:
    • Notify you by telephone, in person, or first class mail, that service may be shut off.
    • Offer a deferred payment agreement for past due bills and a level payment plan for future bills.
    • Provide information on government or private agency assistance.
    • Not shut off service for at least 6 business days after notifying you of possible disconnection.

Establishing Service

Applying For Service

To establish service, you should apply to the business office of the company serving your area. The local telephone directory will usually list the address of the office. Generally the utility will ask for the following information:

  • Complete name and street address where you want service (including apartment number, if applicable)
  • Personal identification such as a driver's license or birth certificate
  • Certain credit information, including employment or source of income

Payment Plans For Utility Service

Deferred Payment Plan

  • You can spread payments on past due amounts over several months.
    • Available if:
      • 1. You have not defaulted on a deferred payment agreement within the past 12 months.
      • 2. Your service is still on.
  • You must pay the deferred payment amount and your regular bill amount by each due date.
  • April 1 to November 30:
    • The utility may require a down payment -- no more than 25% of the amount past due.
    • The utility will allow you to pay the amount within 4 to 12 months.
  • December 1 to March 31:
    • The utility may require a down payment -- no more than 10% of amount past due.
    • The utility will allow you to pay the amount within 4 months, not to extend beyond the following November.
  • Reinstatement
    • If you have missed a payment, the utility must let you back on the plan one time provided that:
      • You pay the amount you should have paid if you had kept the agreement. And
      • Your service has not been shut off.
  • Renegotiation
    • You can renegotiate a deferred payment agreement one time if:
      • Not more than 14 days have passed since you failed to make a payment and
      • You can show that your financial situation has changed.

Levelized Or Budget Payment Plan

  • Averages your total monthly bills over a 12 month period.
  • Each month, your bill will show: 1. The actual amount of service used. 2. The amount you need to pay.
  • Under this plan, your pay only for the service you use, but in level payments throughout the year.

Resolving your Utility Problems

STEP 1: Contact The Utility Company

  • If the utility representative cannot resolve your problem, speak with the supervisor.
  • If the problem is still not resolved, proceed with STEP 2.

STEP 2: Contact the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC)

Informal Complaints

Contact the Commission's Consumer Services Division.
The Consumer Counselor from the Division will:

  • Provide information about Commission rules/state laws which handle the problem you described.
  • And, if necessary:
    • Contact the utility for information and documentation regarding your account.
    • Attempt to resolve your problem through discussion with the utility.
Formal Complaints

If a resolution is not reached through the informal process, you may file for a formal hearing with the ICC.

  • Blank forms are available from the Commission's Chief Clerk's Office.
  • After you submit the fully completed form to the Chief Clerk's Office, a hearing is scheduled.
  • The hearing, similar to a court hearing, takes place before the Commission's impartial hearing examiner.
  • You may use a lawyer's services, though it is not required.
  • The utility company is, in most cases, represented by a lawyer.
  • The Commission will:
    • Consider the testimony presented.
    • Review the evidence.
    • Make a decision.

During both the informal and formal complaint processes, the utility will not discontinue service if you:

Pay the undisputed portion of the bill
OR
Pay for what you used during the same billing period the previous year. You must continue to pay all current bills that are issued.

Theft of Service

Taps

If you receive a bill showing that your utility usage has dramatically increased, you should contact the utility within 30 days. The unusually high consumption may be the result of an illegal tap. The utilities are required to inspect the customer's premises and determine if a tap does exist. When a tap is found, the utility must try to find who is benefiting from the tap. Once a tap is removed, the utility is required to take steps to adjust the account and try to bill the responsible party for the amount of usage received through the tap.

Should the utility discover that you cooperated in or knew about the tap, the utility has the right to hold you responsible for the bill.

Tampering

Customers are prohibited by law from removing, tampering with, or bypassing the meter and must provide any authorized company representative access to the meter and the company's other equipment. The meter must be kept free from obstructions, pets must be restrained, and obstacles must be removed that would prevent the meter reader from correctly reading the meter.