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COLLINSVILLE, Ill. – Low-income families in central and southern Illinois and others going through hard times due to the COVID pandemic have received a much-needed respite from their utility bills.

Ameren Illinois announced Tuesday that they’ve successfully provided more than $29 million in bill forgiveness to approximately 26,000 customers.

A one-time credit was applied toward customer accounts with balances below $5,000. Households facing service disconnection, as well as customers who previously received energy assistance from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP), were eligible for the funds.

The $29 million came from the Utility Disconnection Avoidance Program (UDAP), which was created through an executive order from the Illinois governor. That order opened up an $80 million for low-income billing relief through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

And while the program’s funds have been fully distributed, some customers may still need assistance to pay their utility bills. Ameren Illinois offers in-house options for customers, such as a deferred payment plan, or can point customers to community assistance agencies who may be able to help. People can also contact Ameren Illinois by calling 800-755-5000.