The Missouri Public Service Commission’s Cold Weather Rule, designed to help customers with heat-related utility bills, begins on November 1, 2016. The rule will remain in effect through March 31, 2017. The Cold Weather Rule 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.
→ Prohibits the disconnection of registered elderly and disabled customers who meet certain income guidelines who make a minimum payment.
→ Allows customers to budget payments over 12 months.
→ May allow customers to extend payment of pre-existing arrears beyond 12 months.
→ Does not require a deposit if payment agreement is kept.
→ Requires that customers be notified by mail 10 days before the date the utility intends to shut off service; that an attempt be made to contact the customer within 96 hours before the shut off; that an attempt be made to contact the customer right before the shut off; 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.
In order to receive some of the benefits of the Cold Weather Rule; a customer must sign-up (register) with their heat-related company.
If a customer is faced with a heat-related utility bill that they cannot pay in full, it is important that the customer:
1) Contact the utility company.
2) State an inability to pay the bill in full.
3) Provide income information either by month or annual income.
4) Make a minimum payment.
5) Enter into a payment agreement.
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.