MN Cold Weather Rule

The Cold Weather Rule does not totally forbid winter shut off.  If you receive a shut off notice this winter, you must act promptly.

Some customers find it hard to pay their utility bills in the winter.  The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission set up the Cold Weather Rule to protect residential customers from shut-off if they cannot pay their bills in full.  This protection lasts from October 15 through April 15.  You may qualify for the protection if you meet both of the following conditions:

  1. The disconnection would affect your main heating source, and
  2. You:
  • Qualify for an Inability to Pay Plan, or
  • Qualify for a Ten Percent Plan, or
  • Both you and the utility agree to a payment schedule

If your service has already been shut off as of October 15, the Cold Weather Rule offers a Reconnection Plan which may allow you to have your service turned back on.

The Cold Weather Rule does not totally forbid winter shut off.  If you receive a shut off notice this winter, you must act promptly.

Notice of Proposed Disconnection

If you receive a Disconnection Notice, you will also receive:

  1. Information on your rights & responsibilities
  2. Information on ways to reduce energy use
  3. A list of agencies that can help pay utility bills
  4. A list of weatherization providers
  5. An Inability To Pay or Ten Percent Plan form.

If you want to apply for Inability to Pay or the Ten Percent Plan:

  1. Fill out the form and send it along with your proof of income to Northwest Gas AND
  2. Call Northwest Gas on or before the due date listed on the notice of proposed disconnection, to set up a payment plan.

Northwest Gas may appeal your request to the Public Utilities comission if there is reason to believe you do not qualify.  The Commission will contact you by letter, and will require proof of your claim to qualify for Inability To Pay or the Ten Percent Plan and will make a decision.  The Commission has 30 days to make a decision after receipt of the utility’s written appeal.

 Cold Weather Rule Options

If you receive a Disconnection Notice, there are three plans which you might qualify:

  1. Inability To Pay
  2. Ten Percent Plan
  3. Reconnection Plan

Inability To Pay

To qualify for this plan, you must be a residential customer who:

  1. Was fully paid up, or reasonably on time with a payment plan as of October 15
  2. Meets income guidelines set by the government
  3. Cannot pay the full energy bill, but is willing to make a payment plan

If you qualify for Inability To Pay, and Northwest Gas accepts your application and you make your required schedule payments; we cannot shut off your energy service between October 15 and April 15.

Ten Percent Plan

To qualify for this plan, you must be a residential customer who:

  1. Was not fully paid up or reasonable on time with a payment plan as of October 25
  2. Has household income less than 50 percent of the state median income
  3. Agrees to pay the lesser of:
    1. 10 percent of monthly household income (if you receive service from more than one utility, your payments will e divided among them.)
    2. The full amount of the current bill not including arrears

If you qualify for the Ten Percent Plan, and you make your required monthly payments, Northwest Gas cannot disconnect your service between October 15 and April 15.

 SETTING UP A PAYMENT PLAN

If you cannot pay your full utility bill and need to make special arrangements, call Northwest Gas at 1-800-367-6964 or 507-524-4103 to enter a payment plan which is acceptable to both you and Northwest Gas.  The schedule must cover everything you already owe plus payment for the amount of gas you are expected to use over the time your payment plan covers.  If the plan you request is not acceptable to Northwest Gas, your service may be disconnected.  First, however, the customer has the right to appeal to the General Manager of Northwest gas for a decision on what a fair payment schedule would be.