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Residents: IPL not honoring weather rule regarding power shut offs

Posted: 3:47 PM, Dec 06, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-06 23:30:13Z

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Residents of Independence say they're getting mixed messages about the city's cold weather rule regarding electricity shut offs.

As part of a city ordinance, Independence Power & Light cannot cut off a customer's electricity if temperatures are forecasted to fall below 32 degrees within the following 24 hours.

However, after 41 Action News shared this information with viewers Wednesday several residents reported that in calls placed to IPL, staff informed them there's no such rule.

Julianne Barrera said she spoke with IPL Wednesday about the weather rule.

"I was told over the phone from a representative that there isn't [a cold weather rule] and my power will be shut off regardless of temperatures," Barrera said. "I've spoken to a lot of people and they were told the same thing."

The 41 Action News investigators contacted Zach Walker, city manager of Independence, about the claims that IPL staff was not honoring the rule.

Walker said phone calls between customers and IPL are recorded.

"Any citizen who believes they heard that should report that to us so we can review the phone call and address any potential deficiencies," Walker said. 

According to the ordinance, the city will not cut off a customer's power due to nonpayment of a delinquent bill if:

  • The customer contacts the utility and states the inability to pay in full
  • The customer applies for financial assistance in paying the heat-related utility bill from any federal, state, local or other heating payment fund program for which the customer ma be eligible
  • The city receives an initial payment and the customer enters into a payment agreement acceptable to the city that enables the customer to pay preexisting arrears over a period of time while maintaining any new billings in a current status
  • The customer complies with the city's request for information regarding the customer's monthly or annual income
  • There is no other lawful reason for discontinuance of utility service

Cold weather rule exceptions

Customers who enter into a payment plan and fail to pay as promised can have their electricity shut off regardless of the weather. 

Electricity can also be cut off no matter how cold it gets for things like writing bad checks, credit card chargebacks, safety issues, diversion and tampering.

Walker said a customer's water utility can also be shut off regardless of weather.