Cold Weather Rule Applies in Bankruptcy

The Cold Weather Rule protects Kansas residential utility customers who cannot fully pay their winter electric or gas bill from shutoff.  The Cold Weather Rule will be in effect from November 1 to March 31.

The Cold Weather Rule generally prohibits any disconnection of service when the local National Weather Service forecasts that the temperature will drop below 35 degrees or will be in the mid-30s or colder within the following 48 hours.  The rule applies to utilities regulated by the Kansas Corporation Commission such as Westar Energy and Kansas Gas Service.

How do you sign up?

  • If you can’t pay your entire bill, call your utility company to make pay arrangements:
    • Agree to pay 1/12 of the overdue amount of your bill, plus 1/12 of your current bill, all disconnection and connection fees, and agree to pay the remainder in equal payments over the next 11 months; or
    • Negotiate a payment plan to pay the overdue amount off quicker than 12 months.
  • Remember, you must also pay your full bills for new service you use while paying off the overdue amount.
  • Apply for federal, state, local or special funds for which you are eligible.
  • If you are behind in a previous payment plan and cannot catch up, you need to make a new payment agreement with the utility.
  • If you have illegally used service, you must pay for the value of the illegally used service.

What will the utility company do?

  • Utilities must inform you of the Cold Weather Rule payment plan as well as other payment plans available to you. Remember, under the Cold Weather Rule payment plans, you always have the option of spreading your payment over a total of 12 months.
  • Utilities must send written notice to customers 10 days before disconnection, plus make a phone call or personal contact the day before.
  • Utilities must tell customers about agencies that have funds to help pay utility bills.

Questions? 1.800.662.0027

About Jill Michaux

Jill Michaux is a Kansas bankruptcy attorney. She can be found on Google+. She and her partner, Mark Neis, are Topeka's only board certified consumer bankruptcy law specialists.