The Missouri Public Service Commission’s Cold Weather Rule to help customers with heat-related utility bills, begins Nov. 1. The rule will remain in effect through March 31, 2020. It has been a part of the Commission’s rules and regulations since 1977.
The Cold Weather Rule applies to natural gas and electric utilities under the Commission’s jurisdiction that provide heat-related service. Municipally operated systems, cooperatives and those that provide propane delivered by truck are not under the Commission’s jurisdiction.
The Cold Weather Rule:
— Prohibits the disconnection of heat-related service when the temperature is predicted to drop below 32 degrees during the following 24 hour period.
— Provides more lenient payment terms permitting reconnection of service for natural gas and electric customers.
— Allows customers to budget payments over 12 months.
— Requires that customers be notified by mail 10 days before the date the utility intends to shut off service; an attempt be made to contact the customer within 96 hours before the shut off; an attempt be made to contact the customer right before the shut off; and that notice is left at the home when service has been shut off.
— Requires the customer be notified of possible financial help in paying the utility bill.
— Allows for the reconnection of service for less than the full amount owed.
Customers may register with the utility if they are 65 years of age or older, disabled to the extent that they have filed with the utility a form submitted by a medical physician attesting that their household must have natural gas or electric utility service provided in the home to maintain life or health; or they have obtained a formal award letter issued from the federal government of disability
A customer, registered with the utility company as elderly or disabled, will receive additional notifications prior to a proposed discontinuance of service during the Commission’s Cold Weather rule period.
They may also be eligible for additional minimum payment arrangements.
If a customer is faced with a heat-related utility bill that cannot be paid in full, the Commission said it is important to contact the utility company, state an inability to pay the bill in full, provide monthly or annual income information, make a minimum payment and enter into a payment agreement.
Consumers can also receive Cold Weather Rule information from their local natural gas or electric company or the local community action agency.