ST. PAUL – Minnesota’s cold-weather heating rule expires on Sunday, meaning utility customers who are behind on their bills must set up payment plans in order to avoid being left in the cold.
The state’s cold-weather rule takes effect each winter to protect citizens from having their heat shut off when temperatures fall. While the protection can help people avoid dangerous situations, Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, said it is incumbent upon customers to communicate with their utility provider and set up a plan if necessary.
“Financial assistance is available and companies are willing to work with people to set up a plan, but the customer really needs to stay engaged and should initiate contact,” Swedzinski said. “I also want to warn people that scammers are trying to take advantage of people by calling them on the phone and demanding payments be made immediately, often with a credit card. The best way to avoid that is by reaching out directly to your utility provider.”
Minnesota’s cold-weather rule lasts from Oct. 15 to April 15 each season. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission website (www.mn.gov/puc) includes much more information on shut-off protection and other resources that are available to Minnesotans.