Fall is here and it won't be too much longer before the weather starts turning really cold and we'll want our homes to be nice and toasty. But paying for heat is expensive and a real burden for those with low or fixed incomes. If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot pay all or part of your utility bill, there is help.
Each year, between November 1 and March 31, what's known as the Cold Weather Rule goes into effect in Kansas. The Cold Weather Rule was designed to help Kansans who are behind on their utility payments avoid disconnection during the winter months.
The Cold Weather Rule, first enacted by the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) in 1983, prevents or limits utility companies from disconnecting a customer's natural gas or electric service during periods of extreme cold. Utility companies are prohibited from disconnecting a customer's service when temperatures are forecast to be at or below 35 degrees over the next 24 hours. Any residential customer with a past due balance will qualify for payment arrangements under the Rule. However, it is the customer's responsibility to contact the gas or electric company to make those arrangements.
In addition, the rule requires utility companies to offer a 12-month payment plan to allow consumers to maintain or re-establish utility service. 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 may be found at http://kcc.ks.gov/pi/cwr_english.htm.
Kansans may also contact their local utility company directly, or the KCC's Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection at (800) 662-0027.