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State Offering Help Covering Heating Costs

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State officials are launching a winter program to help low-income Illinoisans pay for utilities.

The Good Samaritan Initiative provides more affordable services for some individuals who have had their utilities disconnected.

The initiative is run by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. It applies to qualifying customers of utility companies including Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas and Ameren Illinois.

To qualify, utility customers must have account balances too high to be covered by the state's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, but less than $3,000.

Participants can get their service restored by paying 20 percent or $250 of their remaining balance.