If you do not pay your utility bills, your service can be shut off.  This can happen even in the middle of winter.  But, between October 15 and April 15, you get extra protection from being shutoff.

Before the utility may turn off your service during this period (October 15 – April 15), the utility company must send you the following information:

a.       A disconnection notice telling you the date you may be disconnected

b.       Details on payment plans and how to avoid disconnection

c.       How to appeal if you and the utility cannot agree on a payment plan

d.       A list of Energy Assistance and Weatherization providers

e.       No cost and low cost methods of conserving energy

f.        A Third Party Notice form

In order to keep your heat on, you must make and keep a payment plan with the utility.  If your household income is at or below 50% of the State Median income, you are not required to pay more than 10% of your monthly income.  If it is more than 50%, you have to come to an agreement with the utility on the monthly payment.

If you and your utility cannot agree on a payment plan, you have 10 days to appeal to the Public Utilities Commission.  Their telephone number is 651-296-7124.  Their website is www.mn.gov/puc . 

Most payment plans under the Cold Weather Rule last until April 15 unless you make other arrangements with the utility.  Call your utility company before April 15th to make a new payment plan so your account will be current on October 15th.  If you don’t make and keep a new payment plan and have a past due balance, you could be disconnected.

If you need help paying your utility bill, Anoka County residents can contact the Anoka County Community Action Energy Assistance Program at 763-783-4712.  The Statewide Energy Assistance Hotline is 1-800-657-3710.  An on-line application for Minnesota residents can also be found at http://benefitsapplication.com/state/MN