Kansas and Missouri's Cold Weather Rule takes effect on Tuesday, November 1, which means now until the end of March, utility companies can not shut off your services. The rules are similar in both states, with a few differences:
"The Kansas Corporation Commission wants Kansans to have electric, gas and water services needed to keep their homes warm during the winter," the KCC said in a statement. The Cold Weather Rule was designed to ensure this goal was met.
According to the KCC, during this time, a utility company can't disconnect you when the temperature is forecasted to drop below 35 degrees or be in the mid to low 30s over the next 24 hours, except in certain circumstances.
If your services have been disconnected, call your utility company. Here are the options listed for Kansas:
If you can't pay your entire bill, call your utility company to make pay arrangements:
- Agree to pay 1/12 of the overdue amount of your bill, plus 1/12 of your current bill, all disconnection and connection fees, and agree to pay the remainder in equal payments over the next 11 months.
- Negotiate a payment plan to pay the overdue amount off quicker than 12 months.
Remember, you must also pay your full bills for new service you use while paying off the overdue amount.
In Missouri, the Cold Weather Rule has been a part of the Public Service Commission’s rules and regulations since 1977. It 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.
"Costs for heating a home during the coldest months of the year can present a significant challenge for some families,” said PSC Chairman Daniel Hall. “The Cold Weather Rule is designed to help struggling consumers meet that challenge.”
MO 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 a customer to register with the utility if:
- 65 years of age or older.
- Disabled to the extent that the customer has filed with the utility a form submitted by a medical physician attesting that your household must have natural gas or electric utility service provided in the home to maintain life or health.
- The customer has obtained a formal award letter issued from the federal government of disability benefits.
- Allows customers to budget payments over 12 months.
In both states you must first call your utility company. They will set you up on a payment plan to get services up and running.
Belinda Post can be reached at email@example.com.