Missouri’s Cold Weather Rule has been changed so it will be harder for utilities to cut off heat to people struggling to pay their bills. The Cold Weather Rule is 27 years old. It’s designed to help low income and disabled Missourians keep the heat on from November first through the end of March. A task force has studied improvements for months. The new rule from the Public Service Commission says a utility cannot cut off service to a registered customer when the temperature drops below 32. That’s a two-degree increase that PSC Chairman Steve Gaw thinks will affect about 13% more homes. The new rule also provides more favorable payment terms for reconnections of customers who have broken past payment agreements under the existing rule.Gaw says the PSC has pushed the envelope as far as it can.The new rule also covers customers who are moving or facing disconnection of service. It allows utilities to conduct means tests of customers and lets utilities require a somewhat larger payment up front in some cases. The revisions are considered the first significant changes in the Cold Weather Rule since 1993.
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