The Missouri Public Service Commission’s Cold Weather Rule, designed to help customers with heat-related utility bills, begins on Nov. 1. The rule will remain in effect through March 31, 2018.

The Cold Weather Rule has been a part of the Commission’s rules and regulations since 1977. The Cold Weather Rule applies to natural gas and electric utilities under PSC jurisdiction that provide heat-related service.

Municipally operated systems, cooperatives and those that provide propane delivered by truck are not under PSC jurisdiction.

The Cold Weather Rule:

• Prohibits the disconnection of heat-related service when the temperature is predicted to drop below 32 degrees during the following 24 hour period.

• Provides more lenient payment terms permitting reconnection of service for natural gas and/or electric customers.

• Allows customers to budget payments over 12 months.

• Requires that customers be notified by mail 10 days before the date the utility intends to shut off service; an attempt be made to contact the customer within 96 hours before the shut off; an attempt be made to contact the customer right before the shut off; and that notice is left at the home when service has been shut off.

• Requires the customer be notified of possible financial help in paying the utility bill.

• Allows for the reconnection of service for less than the full amount owed.

A customer may register with the utility if:

• They are 65 years of age or older;

• Disabled to the extent that they have filed with the utility a form submitted by a medical physician attesting that their household must have natural gas or electric utility service provided in the home to maintain life or health; or

• They have obtained a formal award letter issued from the federal government of disability benefits.

A customer, registered with the utility company as elderly or disabled, will receive additional notifications prior to a proposed discontinuance of service during the Cold Weather Rule period.

They may also be eligible for additional minimum payment arrangements.