Minnesota Cold Weather Rule
Long, cold winters can make it difficult to cover the costs of your heating bills. That's why the state of Minnesota set up the Cold Weather Rule. It protects residential customers from disconnection if they can't pay their bills in full. This protection lasts from October 15 through April 15 each year. You may qualify if you meet both of the following conditions:
- The disconnections would affect your main heating source.
- You and Otter Tail Power Company agree to a payment plan.
If you receive energy assistance, you are eligible for Cold Weather Rule protection.
If you receive a Notice of Proposed Disconnection this winter, call us at 800-257-4044 or 218-739-8877 to apply for Cold Weather Rule protection and set up a payment plan.
Your service could be disconnected without further notice if you don't make the agreed-upon payments. If you can't keep your original payment plan, call us right away to make a new payment plan and avoid disconnection.
If your power is disconnected as of October 15, when the Cold Weather Rule takes effect, give us a call at 800-257-4044 or 218-739-8877 to have your power reconnected. You'll need to set up a payment plan. If you can't keep your original payment plan after reconnection, call us right away to make a new payment plan and avoid disconnection.
If you receive a Notice of Proposed Disconnection, you also will receive:
- Information about your rights and responsibilities.
- Information about ways to reduce energy use.
- A list of agencies that help pay utility bills.
- A list of weatherization providers.
Cold Weather Rule payment plan
If you’ve received a Notice of Proposed Disconnection, you might qualify for a payment plan. Please see the Minnesota Cold Weather Rule brochure. It provides complete details on the steps to take if you can't pay your electric bill or if your electric service is disconnected.
If you expect difficulty paying your electric bills this winter make sure to contact us well before the cold weather begins. That way we can work out a payment plan together before any of your bills are overdue.
We may be able to provide information about possible financial assistance options to help you pay your higher heating bills. It's our goal under the Cold Weather Rule—and in all matters of financial difficulty—to continue service if we have some assurance of payment.
However, if you ignore past-due notices and haven't requested a payment plan, your service may be disconnected.
Your rights and responsibilities
You have the right to a payment plan during the cold-weather months. Both you and our company must agree upon this payment plan.
If your household income is:
- At or below 50% of the state median income, you aren't required to pay more than 10% of your monthly household income.
- Above 50% of the state median income, you may set up a payment plan with our company.
Most Cold Weather Rule payment plans last until April 15, unless you make other arrangements with us. Your service could be disconnected if you have a past-due balance on April 15 and don't make and keep a new payment plan.
If we can't agree on a payment plan, you have ten days to appeal to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The PUC will help you set up a payment plan, and your service will stay on during the appeal process.
If we agree on a payment plan and you continue to make your payments, we won't disconnect your service.
You may qualify for our Even Monthly Payment plan that averages your billing over 12 months.
We offer all customers the option to have a third party notified if their electric service is about to be discontinued. This can be especially helpful for folks who are ill, senior citizens, those who live alone, and customers who don't read English.
A third party can be a friend, relative, church, or community agency. This person or entity receives copies of all disconnection notices mailed to the customer but is NOT required to pay the bills. The third party is authorized to provide information about the customer and make a payment plan with us on their behalf.
To name a third party, please fill out the third-party notice form in our Cold Weather Rule brochure and return it to your local Otter Tail Power Company office.
Medically necessary equipment protection
- To qualify for medically necessary equipment protection residential customers must meet certain criteria.
- If you qualify and make the required monthly payments, we cannot disconnect your electrical service.