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Challenge to cold weather changes denied

By Missouri Public Radio

Columbia, MO – Changes to the Missouri Public Service Commission's so-called "cold weather" rules have survived a legal challenge and can now go into effect.

Earlier this month, the commission adopted a new regulation that allows low-income customers behind on their gas bills to pay just half of their outstanding debt to get their heat turned back on rather than 80%.

Three gas companies challenged the new rule, arguing it put too much of a financial burden on them. But over the weekend, a mid-Missouri judge affirmed the new rule's legality.

Commission Chairman Jeff Davis says that's good news for the state's nearly half-million low-income gas customers.

"You're talking about households with $15,000 or $16,000 worth of income for an entire year and then they could be getting a January gas bill for $250 or $300, so it's obviously a hardship," Davis said.

Davis says the Public Service Commission has an accounting procedure that will eventually reimburse the gas companies.

The new "cold weather" rule will stay in effect until the end of March.


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