Rich Negrín is the vice president of external affairs for ComEd, the electric utility for Northern Illinois. Negrín oversees relations with the city of Chicago as well as relationships with over 400 municipalities. He has over 25 years of experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors. We spoke with Negrín about how ComEd is aiding customers throughout this global health and economic crisis.
How are you helping Chicago residents who are having financial difficulties?
These are unprecedented times. One of the things we’ve done as a company is really gotten together. Our new CEO, Joe Dominguez, has been in the office now for almost two years and we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to be a significant corporate leader and make a difference. We are a social service organization because we provide essential power. The only thing worse than going through something like the coronavirus and having a stay at home order is having to do it without power. We’re making sure that everyone, and especially the most vulnerable, has access to power during this time in terms of reliability and their service. We’re minimizing outages, being very responsive, and also making sure that they don’t have to worry about the financial side while going through this. A lot of folks are losing their jobs and are worried about financial hardships. We’ve stopped shutoffs, during this period, all the way through May 1, 2020. We announced that several weeks ago. From the very beginning of the crisis, we wanted folks to know that we’re going to be standing with them. We’re also reconnecting people who are shut off before to the stay at home order.
What budget plans does ComEd offer?
We offer significant financial assistance programs. We have those regardless of whether you’re going through a Coronavirus crisis or not. There are grants for nonprofits and some faith-based partners where we give grants to many churches that are struggling financially. We also have budget billing that helps people throughout the year avoid those peaks when you’re using more power. Budget billing looks at 12 months of your bill and averages it out so that you’re paying more consistently and you can plan and manage.
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