Missouri’s Cold Weather Rule goes into effect Sunday, November 1st, prohibiting the disconnection of service when the temperature is forecasted to drop below 32 degrees for the following 24 hour period.
“The Cold Weather Rule is in place to help low income customers when the weather gets extremely cold,” said Missouri Public Service Commission Chairman Robert Clayton in an interview with the Missourinet. “We try to have an orderly system set up to address times when perhaps low income customers cannot afford to pay their bill but it’s also very cold outside, so November 1st is when the Cold Weather Rule becomes in effect.”
Among other provisions, the Cold Weather Rule also requires utilities to notify customers, by mail, at least ten days prior to a date of proposed disconnection of services. Additionally, the utility companies must notify delinquent customers about possible financial help in paying their bills. Clayton points out the Cold Weather Rule is not intended to allow delinquent customers to have their homes heated at no cost.
“This is not just a ‘get out of jail free’ card,” said Clayton. “It doesn’t mean that you can just default on your bill completely and never be disconnected. First of all, if the temperature goes above 32 degrees you’re not saved by that. Second thing is that you’re required to make some minimum payments during the period and be sticking with a payment plan that is in place. It doesn’t mean that you get free service throughout the year.”
For more information on the Cold Weather Rule visit the PSC’s website.