JEFFERSON CITY— Missouri’s Public Service Commission’s Cold Weather Rule, designed to help customers with heat-related utility bills, went into effect Nov. 1. The rule will remain …
JEFFERSON CITY— Missouri’s Public Service Commission’s Cold Weather Rule, designed to help customers with heat-related utility bills, went into effect 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 PSC jurisdiction that provide heat-related service. Municipally operated systems, cooperatives and those that provide propane delivered by truck are not under PSC 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/or 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.
A customer 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 benefits.
A customer, registered with the utility company as elderly or disabled, will receive additional notifications prior to a proposed discontinuance of service during the 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, it is important to:
1. Contact the utility company.
2. State an inability to pay the bill in full.
3. Provide monthly or annual income information.
4. Make a minimum payment.
5. Enter into a payment agreement.
Information on the PSC’s Cold Weather Rule, is on the website www.psc.mo.gov or by calling the PSC’s Consumer Services hotline at 1-800-392-4211. Consumers can also receive Cold Weather Rule information from their local natural gas or electric company or the local community action agency.