When colder weather hits, heating bills go up and some Lawrence residents may have trouble keeping their utility bills current.
In keeping with general practices, Kansas Public Service and KPL Gas Service soon will enact the cold weather rule, which is mandated by the Kansas Corporation Commission. The rule, which limits the utilities' ability to disconnect services for non-payment, will be in effect from Nov. 1 to March 31.
During this period, the utility companies cannot disconnect services when the local National Weather Service office forecasts the temperature to drop below 35 degrees or be in the mid-30s or colder, within the following 48-hour period.
To avoid disconnection during these weather conditions, or to reconnect service regardless of temperature, customers must meet the following provisions of the "good faith test:"
Inform the utility of their inability to pay the bill in full.
Give the utility sufficient information to make a payment arrangement and agree to a payment plan for current and future bills.
Make an initial payment of one-twelfth of the total amount owed the utility.
Apply for federal, state, local or other funds to assist with payment.
Locally, several agencies can assist customers with their utility bills. These agencies are the Ballard Community Center, 842-0729; The Salvation Army, 843-4188; Penn House, 842-0440; ECKAN, 841-3357; and Indian Center of Lawrence, 841-7202. The Lawrence SRS Office, 843-6511, is a state agency that also can provide assistance.
Larissa Johns, KPS manager of customer accounting, said the utility "would do whatever is necessary" to keep gas service connected. That sentiment was echoed by Joe Fike, manager of KPL's eastern region office.
"We'll try and work with anybody having problems working out payments," he said.
Both utilities have included information on the cold weather rule and good faith test with recent billings.