Cold Weather

Cold Weather

Objective

To establish rules and conditions to comply with the Minnesota Cold Weather Law 7820.1500 to 7820.2300) commonly known as the Cold Weather Policy which is effective August 1, 1991.

Policy

  1. Minnesota's electric cooperative cold weather law provides that from October 15th through April 15th an electric cooperative cannot disconnect a residential consumer for non payment if you meet the following conditions:
    1. You declare your inability to pay on the appropriate form.
    2. Your total household, not individual, income is less than 50% of the state median income. You must provide the necessary documentation to support this condition.
    3. Your account is current for the billing period immediately prior to October 15th. OR You have entered into a payment schedule and are reasonably current with your scheduled payments.

    If one or more of the above conditions are not met, then you do not qualify for the winter shut-off protection. It is recommended that you seek a satisfactory payment arrangement and you can still continue to receive electric service.

  2. Traverse Electric Coop., Inc. shall notify all residential customers of the provisions of the new law between August 15th and October 15th of each year.
  3. Inability to pay: Before a residential customer can be disconnected between October 15th and April 15th the following five pieces of information must be provided to them either mailed or hand delivered.
    1. Current notice of proposed disconnection.
    2. Provide a form on which the customer can declare to the Cooperative his or her inability to pay, this must be submitted to the Cooperative.
    3. A statement on Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
    4. Percent of Poverty Income Guidelines for the current year.
    5. Statement of Traverse Electric's Budget Billing Policy.
  4. Disconnection Time Restrictions
    1. There must be at least 20 calendar days between the time the notice of disconnection is sent and the customer can be disconnected if mailed or 15 calendar days if hand delivered. If a residential customer must be disconnected, the disconnection must not occur on a Friday or before a holiday.
    2. If a customer does not respond to a disconnection notice, the customer must not be disconnected until the utility investigates whether the residential unit is actually occupied. The utility must immediately inform the occupant of the provisions of this section. If the unit is unoccupied, the utility must give seven days written notice of the proposed disconnection to the local energy assistance provider before making the disconnection. If prior to disconnection, a customer appeals a notice of involuntary disconnection, as provided by the utility's established appeal process, the utility must not disconnect until the appeal is resolved.
  5. Appeal procedure for cold weather rules.
    1. The Appeal Board shall be made up of two consumers and one alternate that are appointed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Traverse Electric. Coop., Inc.
    2. Determination of Appeal. All appeals of declaration of inability to pay shall be determined on an informal basis by the Appeals Board within 30 days after receipt of the utility's written appeal. The Appeals Board shall determine the residential customer's inability to pay based on the following: a finding that the residential customer is in compliance with part 7820.1800 and a finding that the residential customer's household income is less than 50% of the state median income.

      In making their decision the Appeals Board shall consider one or more of the following:

      1. Documentation of income verification by the local energy assistance provider, if applicable;
      2. Documentation that the residential customer is a recipient of any type of public assistance, including energy assistance, that uses household income eligibility in an amount less than 50 % of the state median income;
      3. The most recent income tax returns filed by members of the residential customer's household;
      4. For each employed member of the residential customer's household, either paycheck stubs for the last two months or a written statement from the employer of wages earned during the preceding two months;
      5. A medicaid card or food stamps eligibility document;
      6. Documentation that the residential customer is on a pension from the Department of Human Services, the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, or other pension providers;
      7. A letter showing the residential customer's dismissal from a job or other documentation of unemployment; or
      8. other documentation which supports the residential customer's declaration of inability to pay.

      Subp.2. Disconnection during 30 day appeal period. The utility shall not disconnect the service until expiration of the 30 day appeal period.

    3. Any disputes over a residential customer's inability to pay for service, income eligibility, reasonable ness of payment schedule, or any other issue which a customer could raise under the Minnesota Cold Weather Law shall be referred for hearing, after reasonable notice, to the Cooperative's Board of Directors. The Cooperative and the customer shall have the right to present evidence and be heard in person at the hearing. The Cooperative's Board of Directors shall issue a written decision within 10 days after the hearing. No disconnection shall occur while a dispute is pending.

    Responsibility

    1. The Manager and department heads are responsible for the administration of this policy.
    2. The Board of Directors is responsible for any changes in or revisions of this policy.