TOPEKA, Kan. – The Cold Weather Rule takes effect on November 1st in several states, helping to keep the heat on in the extreme cold.
The rule is designed to help residents who are behind on their utility payments avoid disconnection during the winter months. For states that follow it, it runs from November 1 through March 31.
The Kansas Corporation Commission implemented its Cold Weather Rule in 1983 for Kansas residents.
While the Cold Weather Rule is in effect, utility companies cannot disconnect a customer’s service when local temperatures are forecast to drop below 35 degrees within the following 48-hour period.
The Cold Weather Rule also requires utility companies to offer a 12-month payment plan to allow consumers to maintain or re-establish service. Any residential customer with a past due balance will qualify for payment arrangements; however, it is the customer’s responsibility to contact their gas or electric company to make those arrangements.
Payment plan terms to maintain or restore service require that customers agree to pay 1/12th of the total amount owed, 1/12th of the current bill, the full amount of any disconnection or reconnection fee, plus any applicable deposit to the utility. The remaining balance must be paid in equal payments over the next 11 months, in addition to the current monthly bill.
The Cold Weather Rule applies only to residential customers of electric and natural gas utility companies under the KCC’s jurisdiction. More information about the Cold Weather Rule is available on the Commission’s website.
Missouri’s Cold Weather Rule also starts on November 1st.
Natural gas and electric utilities under Public Service Commission jurisdiction cannot shut off your service on a day when the National Weather Service has issued a local forecast between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., for the following 24 hours, predicting the temperature will drop below 32 degrees.
Oklahoma’s rule is in effect all year. Its Seasonal Policy is a temperature-based rule.
- No disconnect if temperatures are 32° F or below during the day, 20° F or below at night or if the predicted heat index is 101° F or greater. A 30-day delay and 30-day extension is possible in cases of a life-threatening condition. The commission may order a ban on all disconnections if there is severe weather or if it’s dangerous to the health of the customer.
- Disconnection may be delayed for 30 days with a medical doctor or osteopath certification of a life-threatening condition or for life support equipment, a certificate may be renewed once. The customer is required to negotiate a payment plan. Disconnection may be delayed for 20 days if the customer has applied for financial assistance including SSI.