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December 27, 2006

Blagojevich Administration announces start of this winter’s Good Samaritan Initiative
Program allows affordable reconnections for those without utility service; For energy assistance and conservation tips visit www.keepwarm.illinois.gov or call toll-free 1-877-411-WARM

CHICAGO – As part of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s Keep Warm Illinois campaign, officials from his administration today announced the start of the Good Samaritan Initiative for the 2006-2007 winter season.  The initiative provides more affordable reconnection terms to Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) recipients who have had their utilities services disconnected.  Nicor Gas, Peoples Energy, and Ameren have agreed to again participate in the Good Samaritan initiative for the fourth consecutive year.  For information on energy assistance or conservation tips, families can visit the Keep Warm Illinois website at www.keepwarm.illinois.gov or call the toll-free Keep Warm Illinois hotline at 1-877-411-WARM. 
“We are making every effort to make sure that we keep families healthy and safe this winter.  The Good Samaritan Initiative will help thousands of Illinois households that have been disconnected get their service restored at an affordable cost,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “I thank Ameren, Nicor Gas, and Peoples Energy for helping to make sure that families, particularly children and seniors do not suffer during these cold months.”
The Good Samaritan Initiative will help disconnected low-income customers by reducing the amount that the utility companies require to restore service.  LIHEAP beneficiaries, whose outstanding balances are too high to be covered by a LIHEAP grant alone but less than $3,000, will need to pay only $250 or 20 percent of the remaining balance, whichever is less, to have their service restored.  Customers must also set up payment plans with their utilities for the remainder of their balance. 

“The Good Samaritan Energy Initiative will help thousands of low-income households receive heat during cold winter months,” Lt. Governor Pat Quinn said. “Every year there are too many stories of fatal residential fires caused by make-shift heating methods, including defective space heaters, and we’re trying to prevent the devastating consequences of disconnected utility services.”

Lt.  Governor Quinn also encouraged Illinois citizens to contribute to the Good Samaritan Trust Fund.  The fund, which was established by law in 2003, allows Illinois residents and businesses to voluntarily contribute money toward the heating bills of low-income families.  Contributions will benefit low-income residents of the county from which funds were donated and are tax deductible.  To voluntarily contribute to the Good Samaritan Energy Trust Fund, send tax-deductible donations to the Good Samaritan Trust Fund, P.O. Box 19154, Springfield, IL 62794. 
LIHEAP is a state- and federally-funded energy assistance program that assists households with incomes of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level.  A single-person household can qualify with a monthly income of up to $1,225, a two-person household up to $1,650, and a family of four can earn up to $2,500.  LIHEAP energy grant applications are processed through a network of 35 Local Administering Agencies around the state.  The winter heating program is expected to serve 300,000 households this winter with an estimated $150 million in state and federal funding.  For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local administrating agencies and additional information about the grant program, go to www.liheapillinois.com, or call the toll-free Keep Warm Illinois hotline at 1-877-411-WARM.
Governor Blagojevich launched the Keep Warm Illinois campaign and website in October to help all Illinoisans stay warm, healthy and safe this winter. The Keep Warm Illinois campaign brings state agencies together to coordinate efforts in preparing communities across the state for high home heating costs this winter.  The Keep Warm Illinois website (www.keepwarm.illinois.gov) offers various no-cost and low-cost energy saving tips, a web-based tool to conduct a home energy audit, links to energy assistance programs and other resources.  In addition, the Keep Warm Illinois hotline (1-877-411-WARM) is another resource for Illinois residents to learn how to save energy and get energy assistance.


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