Cold Weather Rule begins Nov. 1
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Cold Weather Rule keeps utilities connected during winter months, even if residents are unable to pay their bills in full.
The Kansas Corporation Commission says the Cold Weather Rule will run from Nov. 1, 2020 - March 31, 2021. It said the rule is meant to keep utilities like heat on in the winter months, even if residents cannot pay their bills in full. It said residents should contact their utility companies to see if they qualify to make payment arrangements under the Cold Weather Rule.
According to the KCC, a utility cannot be disconnected when the National Weather Service forecasts temperatures below 35 degrees within a 48 hour period. It said if the forecast changes before the period ends and there is still a forecast of below 35 degrees, the utility cannot be disconnected until there is another 48-hour forecast of temperatures above 35 degrees.
The KCC said to prevent disconnections when it is 35 degrees or above, or to be reconnected, a payment arrangement must be made with the utility company.
According to the KCC, the Cold Weather Rule only applies to residential customers of electric, natural gas and water utility companies under its jurisdiction
The KCC said if residents cannot pay their entire bill, to call their utility company to make payment arrangements in the following ways:
- Agree to pay 1/12 of the overdue amount of your bill, plus 1/12 of your current bill, all disconnection and connection fees plus any applicable deposit owed to the utility, and agree to pay the remainder in equal payments over the next 11 months; or
- Negotiate a payment plan to pay the overdue amount off quicker than 12 months. Remember, you must also pay your full bills for any new service you use while paying off the overdue amount. If you are behind in a previous payment plan and cannot catch up, you need to make a new payment agreement with the utility company.
According to the KCC, utility companies are required to inform residents of the Cold Weather Rule payment plan as well as any other payment plans. It said residents should remember they always have the option of spreading payments over a 12 month period. It said utilities can send written notice to customers 10 days before they are disconnected as well as attempt a phone call or personal contact the day before.
The KCC said utilities must tell customers about agencies that may have funds available to help them pay their bills.
For more information, residents should call their utility companies or the KCC at 800-662-0027, or visit the KCC website.
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