Cold Weather Rule begins as Daylight Saving nears its end

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 6:56 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Cold Weather Rule will begin just as Daylight Saving time nears its end for the winter.

The Kansas Corporation Commission says the Cold Weather Rule is meant to help Kansans behind on their utility payments avoid disconnection through the cold winter months. The rule begins on Tuesday, Nov. 1, and will remain in effect through March 31, 2023.

With energy costs expected to rise, the KCC indicated that the protections offered by the rule could be more crucial than ever in keeping residents safe and connected. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said households in the Midwest with natural gas could see their bills shoot up by 33%. Those with electric heating could pay about 8% more.

However, the Commission warned that if the weather is colder than expected, those rates could shoot higher.

While the rule is in effect, the Commission noted that utility companies are prohibited from disconnecting a customer’s service when temperatures are forecast to drop below 35 degrees within a 48-hour period. It said it implemented the rule in 1983 to prevent utility companies from disconnecting natural gas or electric service during periods of extreme cold.

The KCC said the rule also requires companies to offer a 12-month payment plan to allow customers to maintain or reestablish service. Any resident with a past-due balance will qualify for payment arrangements, however, it is the customer’s responsibility to contact the company and make those arrangements.

The Commission indicated that payment plan terms require customers to 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, and any applicable deposit to the utility. The remaining balance is required to be paid in equal payments over the next 11 months on top of the current monthly bill.

The KCC noted that the rule only applies to residential customers of electric, natural gas, and water companies under its jurisdiction, however, many municipal utilities and cooperatives have similar winter weather policies.

Daylight Saving time will also end at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6. For 2023, Daylight Saving will start back up on Sunday, March 12, when the nation will again spring forward 1-hour.

For more information about the Cold Weather Rule, click HERE.