COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Beginning Wednesday, Ameren Illinois is suspending utility disconnections for residential customers.

A press release from Ameren says it’s carrying out its winter disconnection moratorium early because of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases and cold temperatures being predicted in the coming weeks.

“The company is urging customers who are experiencing financial challenges due to COVID 19 to take steps to save energy, and continue to pay whatever they can afford in order to avoid falling too far behind on their energy bills,” the release says.

“Even though we will not disconnect service for non-payment, it is still important for our customers to take action to ensure that they do not accumulate debt that will be too difficult to repay,” said Richard J. Mark, Chairman and President of Ameren Illinois.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have offered temporary relief measures, repayment plans up to two years, and more than $9 million in bill payment assistance. We continue to stress the need for customers experiencing difficulty paying their bills to call us and explore available funding resources and payment arrangements to get back on track.” 

The moratorium will remain in effect until March 31, 2021.

For more information from Ameren on the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LI-HEAP), click here. For Champaign County’s LI-HEAP program, click here.