ComEd earns industry award for bill and low-income customer assistance efforts

Published on July 24, 2023 by Chris Galford

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The utility-industry association Chartwell Inc. recently honored ComEd with the 2023 Best Practices Bronze Award for its Community Energy Assistance Ambassador (CEAA) program, which has spent the last three years increasing local employment and financial assistance options for customers.

CEAA was launched in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a cooperative effort with community-based organization Chatham Business Association (CBA) to aid income-eligible customers in paying their electric bills and provide local employment – in this case temporary, part-time employment – to the same population. So far, it has employed approximately 300 residents from Chicago’s south and west sides.

With that program as a major contributor, ComEd aided more than 87,000 eligible customers in the first quarter of 2023 alone, getting them access to more than $26 million in bill assistance. It makes the largest amount of assistance the company has provided in any first quarter since at least 2019.

“At ComEd, ensuring all our customers can access safe and reliable electricity is just as important as delivering it,” Melissa Washington, ComEd’s chief customer officer and senior vice president of customer operations, said. “It’s important to us that families and businesses know they can turn to us for help from the moment they start electric service and through any changes and hardships they may encounter. It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized by the utility industry for these efforts.”

The program was built through analysis of 40 communities with the lowest median incomes in ComEd’s service area. That investigation found that many low-income customers, even though they qualify for bill assistance, do not apply for resources available to them – likely due to lack of knowledge of the options. Thus, ComEd and CBA worked to educate customers about energy assistance options available to them on top of more direct economic efforts.

As to Chartwell, its best practices awards annually honor excellence among electric and gas utilities for customer-oriented projects, programs and service initiatives. Judges from Chartwell’s research team select best projects for recognition, a process that this year included more than 90 entries across six categories.