Missouri’s Cold Weather Rule is in place and aims to keep customers from having their utilities shut off during the winter months. State Public Service Commission Chairman Ryan Silvey says people should not be freezing when they’re in a bad financial situation.
“We’d be happy to assist you in working with your utility on those things,” says Silvey. “We are just simply trying to keep them from having their utilities shut off.”
The measure has been a part of the Commission’s rules since 1977.
“It’s been in effect essentially to help elderly, and particularly lower-income or disabled individuals through the winter not to have their heat utilities shut off and to options to allow them to stay on. So, that’s essentially what it’s designed for. That’s worked pretty well for the last 42 years,” says Silvey.
Silvey tells Missourinet affiliate KWIX in Moberly that utility companies regulated by the commission are required to follow the rule, including Ameren.
“We’re making the utilities essentially work with them on a payment structure, spreading it out over twelve months, for instance. But we don’t want people freezing when they’re obviously in a bad situation financially,” says Silvey. “It makes the utilities do some additional notice before they just shut it off. They have to contact you 10 days before. Then they have to make personal contact 96 hours before and then they have to provide options for you or make you aware of options for how to get that bill into a more manageable state so that you won’t have your utilities shut off.”
The rule does not apply to companies run by cities, cooperatives or propane delivery companies, but they might still work with customers having money problems.
By Bob Ehle of Missourinet affiliate KWIX in Moberly
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