Panel approves changes to Cold Weather Rule

Sunday, August 15, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The state Public Service Commission approved several measures Friday aimed at keeping homes heated during the winter months, regardless of a person's ability to pay.

The so-called Cold Weather Rule, established in 1977 and largely unchanged for the past decade, has been recast to provide extra protections to the elderly, disabled and low-income residents struggling to pay their heat bill.

Under the revised rules, low-income elderly and disabled customers who make minimum payments will not have their service disconnected between Nov. 1 and March 31.

A previous regulation that prevents the disconnection of heat to customers depending on weather predictions was also revised. If temperatures are expected to drop below 32 degrees in the next 24 hours, service can't be cut for nonpayment, the PSC said. Previously, the cutoff was 30 degrees.

The commission also passed provisions to help customers who are behind on their payments reconnect service.

"These changes are designed to provide a higher level of protection for all customers during the winter months," said Steve Gaw, the commission chairman.

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