Gas service under KCC jurisdiction, city is not
The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) reminds Kansans that the Cold Weather Rule takes effect Nov. 1 and remains in effect through March 31.
“The Cold Weather Rule ensures Kansans can keep warm during winter months,” says KCC Chairman Mark Sievers. “We encourage consumers to take steps to prepare for colder temperatures. Making sure heating equipment is in good working order, keeping your thermostat at reasonable levels, weather-stripping and caulking windows and doorways — 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.
The Kansas Gas Service, which provides natural gas for Pratt residents, is under the jurisdiction of the KCC. The City of Pratt, like most municipal utilities, is not.
They usually will not cut off electric service for non-payment of bills, but they will disconnect water, City Clerk Lu Kramer said.
Customers who are struggling with bills may be allowed to divide payments in half, but they don’t like for accounts to get more than 30 days behind. Some help may be available from the Ministerial Alliance and the Hope Center that is being organized and from Salvation Army. The city initiated a level payment plan during the summer that might help customers who have paid on time every month and are able to make payments by bank draft.
Gas consumers are responsible for their bills, even when a utility company is obligated to follow the Cold Weather Rule.
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 over the next 24 hours.
The KCC wants Kansans to have the electric and gas service needed to keep their homes warm during winter months. The KCC also recognizes the customer’s responsibility to make arrangements to pay for that service. The Cold Weather Rule was designed in 1983 to ensure that both goals are met. Any residential customer with a past due balance will qualify for payment arrangements under the Rule. However, it is the customer’s responsibility to contact the gas or electric company to make those arrangements.
Payment Plan conditions to maintain or restore service:
Customers must contact their utility company and inform that 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 over the next 11 months, in addition to their current monthly bill.
The Cold Weather Rule applies only to residential customers of electric and natural gas utility companies under the KCC’s jurisdiction. For a complete list of utilities regulated by the KCC visit: http://kcc.ks.gov/pi/jurisdictional_utilities.htm.
More information about the Cold Weather Rule is available at: http://kcc.ks.gov/pi/cwr_english.htm. Kansans may also contact their local utility company or the KCC’s Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection at (800)662-0027.