JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Public Service Commission’s Cold Weather Rule, designed to help customers with heat-related utility bills, began Friday, 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:
- 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.
For more information on the PSC’s Cold Weather Rule, see the commission’s website at 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.