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State's cold weather rule begins Thursday

10/31/2012

Special to The Hays Daily News

Special to The Hays Daily News

TOPEKA -- The Kansas Corporation Commission reminds Kansans the Cold Weather Rule takes effect Thursday and remains in effect through March 31.

"The Cold Weather Rule helps to ensure that Kansans can be warm in their home this winter. Consumers are encouraged to take steps to prepare for colder temperatures this winter," said KCC Chairman Mark Sievers. "Make sure heating equipment is in good working order, set your thermostat at a reasonable level, weather strip and caulk windows and doorways -- doing these things can cut down on heating costs."

The Cold Weather Rule prohibits utility companies from disconnecting a customer's natural gas or electric service during periods of extreme cold. The rule requires utility companies to offer a 12-month payment plan to allow consumers to maintain or re-establish utility service.

Disconnection conditions:

* Utility companies may not initiate disconnection until temperatures are forecast to be above 35 degrees for the next 48 hours.

* Utility companies must contact the customer by phone or in-person 24 hours before disconnecting service.

* Utility companies are prohibited from disconnecting a customer's service when temperatures are forecast to be at or below 35 degrees for the next 24 hours.

Payment Plan conditions to maintain or restore service:

* Customers must contact their utility company and inform they cannot pay their bill in full.

* Customers must 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.

Customers must agree to pay the remaining balance in equal payments during the next 11 months, in addition to their current monthly bill.

For more information, visit kcc.ks.gov/pi/cwr_english.htm. Kansans also can contact their local utility company or the KCC's Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection at (800) 662-0027.