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State House Passes Bill to Help Consumers Struggling With High Summer Electric Bills

Legislation would protect Illinois consumers against air conditioning disconnection when temperatures may reach 95 degrees or above

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., May 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AARP today commended the Illinois House of Representatives for its unanimous passage of House Bill 5086, which will increase protections for consumers by preventing utility companies from shutting off cooling service if the temperature is forecasted to reach 95 degrees or above.

HB 5086, sponsored by State Representative Bob Flider (D-Decatur), passed the House unanimously on Thursday. It will now move to the State Senate under the sponsorship of Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-Moline).

The legislation provides cooling disconnection protection to residential customers, for non payment of bills, if the temperature is forecasted to reach 95 degrees or above, on any day when the National Weather Service has predicted that temperature for the following 24 hours; it also prevents disconnection on any day preceding a holiday or weekend when the forecast indicates that a temperature of 95 degrees or above will be reached during the holiday or weekend.

"Consumers need protections from having their electricity shut off during extreme summer weather - for older people to be without air-conditioning in the heat can be fatal," said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois State Director. "AARP commends Rep. Flider and the House for their commitment to protecting Illinois consumers who might be facing hard times, and we urge the Senate to pass this legislation."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States from 1979-2003. These were more deaths than those caused by hurricanes, lighting, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined.

Current state law provides protections for customers from having their electric or natural gas service disconnected for non payment during the winter months. However, there were no similar utility termination protections for customers cooling their homes during the summer months. AARP is urging the Senate to pass this legislation that will especially help protect older Illinoisans and other vulnerable residents from having their air conditioning shut off during high temperatures.

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