Important Information Regarding Winter Bills
The cold weather rule does not totally forbid winter cutoffs. If you receive a disconnection notice this winter, you must act promptly.
Notice of Residential Customer Rights and Possible Assistance
This notice informs you of your rights and responsibilities under the Cold Weather Rule. They are designed to help you with high winter electric bills. You must act PROMPTLY. If you choose not to assert your rights or choose not to enter a mutually acceptable payment plan, your service may be disconnected.
An electric cooperative 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 the following conditions are met:
- The household income of the customer is at or below 50 percent of the state median household income. Income may be verified on forms provided by the Cooperative or by the local energy assistance provider. A customer meets the income requirement if the customer receives energy assistance or other type of public assistance that uses an income eligibility threshold set at or below 50 percent of the state median household income; and
- A customer enters and makes reasonably timely payments under a payment agreement that considers the financial resources of the household; and
- A customer receives from the cooperative referrals to energy assistance, weatherization, conservation, or other programs likely to reduce the customer's energy bills.
Military Service Personnel Assistance
When a household member has been ordered into active duty, for deployment, or for a change of duty station, some customers may find it hard to pay their utility bills. Minnesota law protects these military personnel from shutoff if they cannot pay their utility bills in full.
The Cold Weather Rule Provides You With These Options
The RIGHT to request and complete the Cold Weather Disconnect Protection Form. If you do so and if your household income is less than 50% of the state median income, the service affecting your primary heat source cannot be disconnected for nonpayment of your bill. However, we have the right to accept or reject your request based on information supplied or other supporting documentation.
The RESPONSIBILITY, if you choose to complete the Cold Weather Disconnect Protection Form you must return it to us prior to the disconnect date. You must contact us immediately to arrange a payment plan.
THE RIGHT to a mutually agreeable payment schedule with us. The schedule will cover your existing arrears plus the estimated usage during the payment schedule period.
The RIGHT not to be involuntarily disconnected on a Friday or on a day before a holiday, or until at least twenty (20) days after the postmark on the notice to disconnect or until fifteen (15) days after the notice and information has been personally delivered.
The RIGHT not to be disconnected until the utility investigates whether the residential unit is occupied when a customer does not respond to a disconnection notice. If the unit is found to be 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 a disconnection.
The RIGHT to appeal the disconnection of service to the Brown County Rural Electrical Association Board of Directors. If you choose to appeal, you must deliver or mail a personal letter stating your situation and issues in dispute. Your letter must be in our hands before the date of disconnection. You will be notified when the Board of Directors will review your appeal and you may be present at the review. No disconnection of service will take place during the appeal process.
What To Do If You Meet The Cold Weather Rule Conditions:
If you meet all the conditions of the Cold Weather Rule as outlined in this brochure, cannot pay your electric bill, and need cold weather protection from utility shutoff, fill out the Cold Weather Disconnect Protection Form on the back of this brochure and return it to Brown County Rural Electric Association immediately along with your income documentation. For a list of energy assistance providers serving Brown County REA please go under "Resources" on our website and click on "Energy Assistance."
What To Do If You DO NOT Meet the Cold Weather Rule Conditions:
If you do not meet all the conditions of the Cold Weather Rule as outlined, you do not qualify for winter shutoff protection. However, you still can continue to receive electric service if you call us to set up a mutually acceptable payment arrangement. Call Brown County REA at (507) 794-3331 or (800) 658-2368 BEFORE the due date.
**If you want to fill out a brochure, please contact the office and we will send one to you.