Stricter Cold Weather Rule considered
By Matt Sepic, KWMU
St. Louis, MO. – Missouri's public service commission is considering changes to the state's cold weather rule.
The regulation prohibits utility companies from cutting off a person's gas or electric service during the winter for failure to pay.
If someone's service is shut off, he or she has to pay 80 percent of the amount owed to get it turned back on.
Office of Public Council attorney Eric Martin wants to lower that to 50 percent.
When you have gas prices that could be 40 percent to 50 percent higher than they were last year, it's not only going to affect the very bottom poor people, it could affect people who over the years have been mostly paying their bills, Martin said.
The Office of Public Council also wants utility regulators to widen levelized billing programs and clear the bad customer records of people who uphold a cold weather agreement.
A Laclede Gas spokesman would not comment on specifics of the proposal. But he said the company has already expanded assistance programs for low-income customers.