The “Cold Weather Rule” begins in Missouri, but what is it? | csnf/code
JOPLIN, Mo. – A statewide rule designed to help pay heat-related utility bills and, at the same time, protect residents from service outages during the winter months recently went into effect.
The Missouri Public Service Commission (MPSC) “Cold Weather Rule” will remain in effect until March 31, 2024. It has been part of the MPSC’s rules and regulations since 1977.
The cold weather rule applies to natural gas and electric utilities under MPSC jurisdiction that provide heat-related service. Systems operated by municipalities, cooperatives, and those that provide propane delivered by truck are not subject to MPSC jurisdiction.
What does Al Qaeda do?
- Heat-related service interruptions are prohibited when the temperature is expected to drop below 32 degrees within the next 24-hour period.
- Provides more lenient payment terms that allow service to be reconnected to natural gas and/or electric customers.
- Allows customers to budget payments over 12 months.
- Requires customers to be notified by mail 10 days prior to the date on which the utility intends to discontinue service; attempt to contact the customer within 96 hours prior to shutdown; Attempt to contact the customer immediately before shutting down; This notice is left at home when the service is stopped.
- Requires customer notification of potential financial assistance in paying utility bill.
- It is permitted to reconnect the service for less than the full amount due.
Who can register?
- Those who are 65 or older.
- Any person who is disabled to the extent that he or she has submitted to the facility a form provided by a physician affirming that his or her household must have natural gas or electric service available in the home to sustain life or health.
- They have obtained an official award letter issued by the federal government for disability benefits.
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A customer registered with the utility company as elderly or disabled will receive additional notifications prior to the proposed discontinuation of service during the Cold Weather Rule period. They may also be eligible for additional minimum payment arrangements.
When a heat-related utility bill cannot be paid
- Call the utility company.
- State the inability to pay the bill in full.
- Providing monthly or annual income information.
- Enter into the payment agreement.
For more information about 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 get information about cold weather rules from their local natural gas or electric company, or their local community action agency. There may also be additional programs available to consumers who request assistance paying their heating bills.
When can utilities be turned off?
Before closing facilities during the Cold Weather Rule period, providers must…
- Notify customers of potential financial assistance to pay overdue bills.
- Mail written notice at least 10 days before the proposed closing.
- Try to contact the customer either by a second written notice via mail, or at least two phone calls 96 hours before closing.
- Try to contact the client on the closing day.
- For elderly or disabled customers who have registered with a service provider, call and send a copy of the 10-day notice to the customer’s alternate contact and make in-person contact with the elderly or disabled customer or family member age 15 or older on the closing day.
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For more information about the Missouri Public Service Commission’s cold weather rule, you can visit the MPSC’s website, here. You can also call the MPSC Consumer Services Hotline at (800) 392-4211. Consumers can also get information about cold weather rules from their local natural gas or electric company or local community action agency. Fourstateshomepage.com provides an easy one-page reference guide available for download below.
For those seeking assistance with heating bills, there may be additional programs available to consumers. One organization that may be able to help is United Way. 1-800-427-4626 to locate agencies that may be able to assist you.