Utilities shutoff banned temporarily for coronavirus

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued an executive order 20-05 banning utility and internet service shutoffs until May 1, 2020. The order applies to services not regulated by the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC).

For utilities regulated by the KCC, the commission extended the cold weather rule to April 15, 2020, which suspends shutoffs.

The City of Water has a moratorium on water shutoffs until April 15, 2020.

The cold weather rule requires customers contact the provider to make payment arrangements. It applies to electricity, gas and water utilities regulated by the Kansas Corporation Commission such as Evergy and OneGas Kansas Gas Service.

Cold Weather Rule–

How do I 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 reconnection fees plus any applicable deposit owed to the utility, 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.

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 available payment plans. Remember, under the Cold Weather Rule, 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 attempt a phone call or personal contact the day before.

Utilities must tell customers about agencies that have funds to help pay utility bills.

Can you be disconnected during the Cold Weather Rule?

A utility can’t disconnect you when the temperature is forecasted to drop below 35 degrees Fahrenheit within the following 48-hour period, except in certain circumstances.

To prevent disconnection when it is 35 degrees or above, or to be reconnected regardless of temperature, you must make pay arrangements with your utility.

A utility may start the final notification and disconnection process if there is a 48 hour forecast of temperatures above 35 degrees.

If the 48 hour forecast changes before the period ends and there is a forecast of below 35 degrees, the utility cannot disconnect until there is another Cold Weather Rule 48 hour forecast of temperatures above 35 degrees.

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.