Chances are you've heard about it - but many have questions how Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule works.  The program is in place to help utility customers who may be having a tough time making ends meet during the colder, winter months.

The plan goes into effect on October 1 and runs through the winter months, ending on April 30. That period of time provides certain "protections for residential, heat-affected customers....help[ing them] avoid disconnection of service.

First and foremost - it's important to outline what it's not.  Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule "does not forbid winter shut-off".  It also doesn't turn a blind eye to a customers utility bills.

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According to information about the Cold Weather Rule released by Minnesota Power, here's how you avoid disconnection:

"If you receive a shut-off notice during the winter, you must act promptly and call [your utility company] to request Cold Weather Rule protection and set up a payment plan.  Your service will be subject to disconnection without further notice if you do not make the agreed-upon payments. [If you can't] keep your payment plan and make a new payment plan to avoid disconnection."

In regards to payment plans, there are some stipulations to meet; the thresholds involve the state median income level:

  • If you are at or below 50 percent of the state median income, you are not required to pay more than 10-percent of your monthly household income.
  • If you are at more than 50 percent of the state median income, you may make a payment plan with [your utility company].

Click here to see a table that outlines that state median income using numbers correlating to Minnesota.

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Cold Weather Rule payment plans can be set up at any time through April 30.  You also have the option to ask for an extension for the payment plan - or set up a new payment plan - after April 30.  It's worth noting that your service could be shut off if you have a past-due balance after April 30 and do not make and keep to a new payment plan.

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