216B.097 Cold Weather Rule; Cooperative or Municipal Utility
Subdivision 1. Application; notice to residential customer. (a) A municipal utility or a cooperative electric association must not disconnect and must reconnect the utility service of a residential customer during the period between October 1 and April 30 if the disconnection affects the primary heat source for the residential unit and all of the following conditions are met:
1. The household income of the customer is at or below 50 percent of the state median household income. A municipal utility or cooperative electric association utility may (i) verify income on forms it provides or (ii) obtain verification of income from the local energy assistance provider. A customer is deemed to meet the income requirements of this clause if the customer receives any form of public assistance, including energy assistance, that uses an income eligibility threshold set at or below 50 percent of the state median household income.
2. A customer enters into and makes reasonably timely payments under a payment agreement that considers the financial resources of the household.
3. A customer receives referrals to energy assistance, weatherization, conservation, or other programs likely to reduce the customer’s energy bills.
(b) A municipal utility or a cooperative electric association must, between August 15 and October 1 each year, notify all residential customers of the provisions of this section.
Subd. 2. Notice to residential customer facing disconnection. (a) Before disconnecting service to a residential customer during the period between October 1 and April 30, a municipal utility or cooperative electric association must provide the following information to a customer:
(1) a notice of proposed disconnection;
(2) a statement explaining the customer’s rights and responsibilities;
(3) a list of local energy assistance providers;
(4) forms on which to declare inability to pay; and
(5) a statement explaining available time payment plans and other opportunities to secure continued utility service.
(b) At the same time that notice is given under paragraph (a), the utility must also give written or electronic notice of the proposed disconnection to the local energy assistance provider and the department.
Subd. 3. Restrictions if disconnection necessary. (a) If a residential customer must be involuntarily disconnected remotely using advanced metering infrastructure or physically at the property being disconnected between October 1 and April 30 for failure to comply with Subdivision 1, the disconnection must not occur:
(1) on a Friday, unless the customer declines to enter into a payment agreement offered that day in person or via personal contact by telephone by a municipal utility or cooperative electric association;
(2) on a weekend, holiday, or the day before a holiday;
(3) when utility offices are closed; or
(4) after the close of business on a day when disconnection is permitted, unless a field representative of a municipal utility or cooperative electric association who is authorized to enter into a payment agreement, accept payment, and continue service, offers a payment agreement to the customer.
Further, the disconnection must not occur until at least 30 days after the notice required in Subdivision 2 has been mailed to the customer or 15 days after the notice has been personally delivered to the customer.
(b) The customer must not be disconnected until the utility attempts to confirm whether the residential unit is actually occupied, which the utility may accomplish by:
(1) visiting the residential unit; or
(2) examining energy usage data obtained through advanced metering infrastructure to determine whether there is energy usage over at least a 24-hour period that indicates occupancy.
(c) A utility may not disconnect a residential customer who is in compliance with Section 216B.098, Subdivision 5.
(d) If, prior to disconnection, a customer appeals a notice of involuntary disconnection, as provided by the utility’s established appeal procedure, the utility must not disconnect until the appeal is resolved.
(e) For the purposes of this section, “advanced metering infrastructure” means an integrated system of smart meters, communication networks, and data management systems that enables two-way communication between a utility and its customers.
Subd. 5. Cost recovery. A municipal utility or cooperative electric association may recover the reasonable costs of disconnecting and reconnecting a residential customer based on the costs of providing notice to the customer and other entities and whether the process was accomplished physically at the property being disconnected or reconnected or remotely using advanced metering infrastructure.
325E.028 Utility payment arrangements for military service personnel
Subdivision 1. Restriction on disconnection; payment schedules. (a) A municipal utility, cooperative electric association, or public utility must not disconnect the utility service of a residential customer if a member of the household has been issued orders into active duty, for deployment, or for a permanent change in duty station during the period of active duty, deployment, or change in duty station if such a residential customer:
(1) has a household income below the state median household income or is receiving energy assistance and enters into an agreement with the municipal utility, cooperative electric association, or public utility under which the residential customer pays 10 percent of the customer’s gross monthly income toward the customer’s bill and the residential customer remains reasonably current with those payments; or
(2) has a household income above the state median household income and enters into an agreement with the municipal utility, cooperative electric association, or public utility establishing a reasonable payment schedule that considers the financial resources of the household and the residential customer remains reasonably current with payments under the payment schedule.
(b) For purposes of this subdivision, “household income” means household income measured after the date of the orders specified in paragraph (a).
Subd. 2. Annual notice to all customers; inability to pay forms. (a) A municipal utility, cooperative electric association, or public utility must notify all residential customers annually of the provisions of this section.
(b) A municipal utility, cooperative electric association, or public utility must provide a form to a residential customer to request the protections of this section upon the residential customer’s request.
Subd. 3. Application to service limiters. For the purposes of this section, “disconnection” includes a service or load limiter or any device that limits or interrupts electric service in any way.
SWCE Area Energy Assistance Phone Numbers
Blue Earth County