Kansans unable to pay residential electric and gas bills during cold months of the year can retain service based on a directive from the Kansas Corporation Commission.
KCC's Cold Weather Rule, created in 1983 by the utility regulatory commission, is in effect from Nov. 1 to March 31.
"The whole intent is to protect health and human life regardless of the dollar amount or the situation in the residence," Rosemary Foreman, director of public affairs and consumer protection for the KCC in Topeka, said Tuesday.
"It's probably one of the more important rules the commission has," she said.
Foreman said the rule mandated utility companies offer a consumer a 12-month payment agreement prior to disconnection.
That means the consumer must pay 1/12th of the entire amount owed to the utility company to start the payment agreement, then each month pay that amount plus the current bill to maintain service.
Foreman said KCC rules stipulated there had to be a 48-hour forecast of temperatures above 35 degrees before a utility could start final notification and disconnection procedures.
After March 31, consumers must keep pay agreements current or face disconnection.
Questions about the rule can be directed to KCC's consumer protection office at (800) 662-0027.
-- Tim Carpenter's phone message number is 832-7155. His e-mail address is email@example.com.