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Cold Weather Rule Takes Effect November 1st - KOAM TV 7

Cold Weather Rule Takes Effect November 1st

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   The cold weather rule takes effect on November 1st in both Missouri and Kansas -- helping people keep the heat on through the winter.
     Missourians and Kansans who are behind on their utility bills are given the chance to pay the past-due balances, without losing power during the winter months.  They should contact their utility companies to make arrangements.
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TOPEKA – The Cold Weather Rule, designed to help Kansans who are behind on their utility payments avoid disconnection during the winter months, begins November 1 and remains in effect through March 31.
"The Kansas Corporation Commission encourages Kansans who are past-due on their utility bills and at risk for disconnection to prepare for the colder weather by contacting their utility company to make the necessary payment arrangements," said Commission Chairman Pat Apple.
The Cold Weather Rule, first enacted by the Commission in 1983, prevents or limits utility companies from disconnecting a customer's natural gas or electric service during periods of extreme cold. Utility companies are prohibited from disconnecting a customer's service when temperatures are forecast to be at or below 35 degrees over the next 24 hours. In addition, the rule requires utility companies to offer a 12-month payment plan to allow consumers to maintain or re-establish utility service.
Any residential customer with a past due balance will qualify for payment arrangements under the Rule. However, it is the customer's responsibility to contact the gas or electric company to make those arrangements.
Payment plan conditions to maintain or restore service require that customers agree to pay 1/12th of the total amount owed, 1/12th of the current bill, the full amount of any disconnection or reconnection fee, plus any applicable deposit to the utility. The remaining balance must be paid in equal payments over the next 11 months, in addition to the current monthly bill.
The Cold Weather Rule applies only to residential customers of electric and natural gas utility companies under the KCC's jurisdiction. More information about the Cold Weather Rule may be found at http://kcc.ks.gov/consumer-information/cold-weather-rule. Kansans may also contact their local utility company or the KCC's Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection at (800) 662-0027.
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The Missouri Public Service Commission's Cold Weather Rule begins on November 1, 2017. 

This program is designed to help customers with heat-related utility bills, according to the commission.

The rule remains in effect until March 31, 2018. 

The Rule applies to natural gas and electric utilities under PSC jurisdiction that provide heat-related service. 

Cooperatives, municipally operated systems 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:

Contact the utility company
State an inability to pay the bill in full  
Provide monthly or annual income information  
Make a minimum payment  
Enter into a payment agreement.
The Cold Weather Rule has been a part of the Commission's rules and regulations since 1977.   

 For more information on the PSC's Cold Weather Rule, please see the Commission's website at www.psc.mo.gov or call the Commission'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.

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