SPRINGFIELD, Illinois. (NEXSTAR) – Citing “skyrocketed electricity bills” after a “brutal winter freeze” hit much of the country last week, Governor JB Pritzker announced a $ 15 million low-interest loan program to help small towns the interior of the state to pay for the “catastrophic increase in the price of energy”.
“Pleasant Hill was charged more than 100 times the natural cost of natural gas,” said Pritzker on Tuesday afternoon at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
State Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield) thanked Pritzker for his attention to detail and concern for the rural communities that were hit by the price hike.
“Times like these are bipartisan times when we can all be together,” said McClure.
Pritzker declared an emergency disaster last week, opening new avenues for possible federal aid to reimburse the disaster’s expenses. However, because federal funds cannot be used to pay utility bills, loans will be issued through the Illinois Financial Authority.
“Thank God we have this governor and his team who are willing to do something,” said MP Sue Scherer (D-Decatur), although she acknowledged that the loan program will not solve the root cause of the problem.
Scherer called on ERCOT, the power grid management agency in Texas, to increase pressure on energy suppliers to hold them accountable for power cuts.
Local municipalities will eventually pay the loan to the state at a low rate that is scheduled to be determined on Thursday, Pritzker government officials said. The loans will be repaid over the years, allowing municipalities to spread their costs over time and avoid the immediate short-term impact and late fees that could be added to the price.