TOPEKA – The Cold Weather Rule ends on Friday, March 31. That means Kansans who are behind on electric and natural gas utility bills will be subject to disconnection of service unless they contact their utility company to make payment arrangements. March 31 is also the last day to apply for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program or LIEAP, a federally funded program administered by the Kansas Department of Children and Families. LIEAP applications must be received by the Kansas DCF office by 5 p.m. on Friday. The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) urges all customers facing financial difficulties to act now to stay connected.
The Cold Weather Rule, in effect from November 1 through March 31, provides protection from disconnection to residential customers served by utilities regulated by the KCC when temperatures are forecast to drop below 35 degrees within the following 48-hour period. When the rule is in effect, regulated utilities are also required to offer a Cold Weather 12-month payment plan upon request, even if a previous payment plan has been broken.
When that protection ends on Friday, failure to make arrangements or failure to adhere to an already established payment plan could result in disconnection. Reconnection after March 31 may require past due balances be paid in full, depending on the utility’s policy. That is why it is important to call now – while regulated utilities are still required to offer the Cold Weather Rule 12-month payment plan.
The Cold Weather Rule 12-month payment plans require an initial payment of 1/12 of the overdue amount, 1/12 of the bill for current service, the full amount of any disconnection or reconnection fees, plus any applicable deposit owed to the utility. The balance is billed in equal payments over the next 11 months in addition to the regular monthly bill.
It is important to note that the KCC does not regulate co-ops or municipal utilities, although many of those utilities also offer a cold weather payment plan. For a complete list of utilities regulated by the KCC visit: http://kcc.ks.gov/
To find out more about utility assistance programs in your area, please contact your utility or the KCC Consumer Protection Office at 800-662-0027 or 785-271-3140. Utility assistance program information is also posted on the KCC’s website.