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Cold weather rule sign-up coming in September PUC bills

Sep 08, 2017 08:11AM ● Published by Editor

By Brian Larsen from The Cook County News Herald - September 1, 2017

Cold weather notices will be included in Grand Marais residents’ September bills, and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is asking people to apply for protection from having the power disconnected to their house if they cannot make full payment on their electrical bill.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission cold weather rule protects residential customers who will have difficulty paying their heating bills from October 15 through April 15.

Forms from the city will be sent before October 15. If a customer wishes to be considered for the program, they should contact City Hall and present information to City Administrator Mike Roth and set up monthly payments for the winter months.

Customers who qualify for protection must agree to pay 10 percent of their monthly income to avoid disconnection. This 10 percent will be prorated between energy providers. If a customer uses propane or fuel oil, the city would only receive 30 percent of the 10 percent.

But customers who have demonstrated an inability to pay on forms provided and who make reasonable payments cannot be disconnected. Also, all payment agreements must consider a customer’s financial circumstance and any extending circumstances of the household. 

Arrowhead Electric

Arrowhead Electric Cooperative customers who might not be able to pay their full electric bill are encouraged to make a payment arrangement with Arrowhead and stay current with their payments.

“If you are income eligible, you must also apply for AEOA Assistance,” said Sandy Petty of AEC. “This is also true for all residential customers, even senior citizens or families with children.”

And said Petty, “There is no guarantee how much money AEOA has, so if you think you need assistance, the sooner the better.” 

To set up a payment plan, contact Arrowhead Cooperative at 800-864- 3744 before the due date of your bill. If a customer receives a shut-off notice they must fill out a form in the cold weather law brochure included with their bill, or call the Arrowhead office to get a form sent to them before the disconnect day.

All Minnesota energy resource customers are eligible for a cold weather rule payment plan. Those whose income falls below 50 percent of the state’s median income are not required to pay more than 10 percent of their income. In the summer months, however, customers must catch up on their bill or face having their power shut off.

Under the state’s 2014- 2015 guideline, a family of four making $44,912 or less would qualify for the 10 percent of income payment plan.

Any customer who receives energy assistance, state or federal financial assistance, medical aid, food stamps, a pension, unemployment, showing proof of recent job loss, having income less than 50 percent of the median state level, or other proof supporting inability to pay cannot be disconnected.

If a customer doesn’t apply for disconnect service by October 15 and cannot meet their payments, they will receive another form in the mail and be given 20 working days to respond. If there is no follow through the city will notify the local energy provider and social services to see if they can help, but if there is no assistance received and there is no response from the customer, a shutoff notice will be given, with three additional days before the electricity is shut off.

In Grand Marais if you are in some doubt about whether you qualify, please call the city at 387-1848 and ask for Mike Roth.

For further assistance contact the Energy Assistance Hotline: 800- 657-3710; Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA): 1-800- 662-5711; Salvation Army Heatshare: 1-800-824- 7279.

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