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MO Cold Weather Rule underway to help customers from getting heat shut off

Missouri’s Cold Weather Rule has kicked in and runs through the end of March. That means utility companies cannot shut off your gas or electricity to let you freeze to death just because you can’t afford the bill when the temperature is forecasted to drop below 32 degrees during the following 24-hour period.

State Public Service Commission Chairman Ryan Silvey says the rule is designed to help customers with their heat-related utility bills.

“We’re just simply trying to keep them from having their utilities shut off at the coldest part of the year and the difficult times.”

Utility companies regulated by the Missouri Public Service Commission are required to follow the rule, including Spire, and Liberty Utilities.

“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.

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. 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 says the rule makes the utilities do some additional notice to customers before they get their heat shut off, including contact 10 days before, 96 hours prior and they must give options for customers to get their bills into a more manageable position.

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