RPC Making More Utility Assistance Available for Champaign County Households at Greatest Risk from Extreme Heat in Months Ahead

RPC Making More Utility Assistance Available for Champaign County Households at Greatest Risk from Extreme Heat in Months Ahead

Due in large part to the drastic increase in utility costs in Illinois, historical high demand for utility assistance, and the fact that supplemental resources allocated for utility assistance during the COVID pandemic have not been sustained post pandemic by the federal government, the RPC exhausted its funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) on May 9, 2024. With Summer 2024 forecasted to be especially warm, the RPC is addressing the gap in service by administering a Summer Cooling program to support low-income households in Champaign County at the greatest risk from extreme heat.

The Summer Cooling program is made possible with funding from the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). The program is anticipated to allow the RPC to help 100 to 150 households maintain the electric utility services in their homes during the Summer, with the amount of bill assistance per household not to exceed $1,000. Eligibility criteria for the Summer Cooling program includes:

  • They must be Champaign County residents.
  • The household’s electric service is disconnected or in imminent disconnect status.
  • The household’s most recent 30-day income must be at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level
  • The household includes a senior (age 60 and above), a child under age 4, a pregnant woman, or an individual with a medical certificate documenting that the disconnection of power will aggravate an existing medical emergency or create a medical emergency.

Champaign County households interested in applying for the Summer Cooling program can start doing so on June 3, 2024. Appointments will be available on a walk-in, first-come, first-served basis only from 8:30am to 3pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays; and on Wednesdays from 10am to 3pm. Appointments will be available at the RPC’s office inside the Brookens Administrative Center (1776 E. Washington Street, Urbana), at 2009 Round Barn Road in Champaign, and at the Rantoul Business Center (601 S. Century Boulevard, Suite 1314).

LIHEAP will resume taking new applications on October 1, 2024, for households with anyone aged 60 or older, with a person who has a documented disability, families with children under age 6, and disconnected/disconnect notice households. All other eligible households can start applying on November 1, 2024.

Champaign County households not eligible for the Summer Cooling program are encouraged to contact their utility company directly for payment arrangements and ask about other utility-sponsored assistance programs that may be available. They can also dial 2-1-1 to ask about any utility bill payment assistance and/or other assistance that may be available in Champaign County.

As of May 9, 2024, the RPC had allocated a total of $6,258,943 to 8,828 households in Champaign County through LIHEAP during the 2023-24 program year, including $484,928.00 of funds that had been earned to support LIHEAP program staff and administration that were converted to use for client assistance funding.