Cold Weather Rule
Customer rights and responsibilities
Read this page carefully to be sure you understand your rights and responsibilities under the Cold Weather Rule. If you have questions or would like more information, contact CenterPoint Energy at 612-372-4680 or 800-729-6164. If you receive a disconnection notice, you must act immediately.
About the Minnesota Cold Weather Rule
The State of Minnesota set up the Cold Weather Rule to help customers who cannot pay their gas bill in full. It does not completely stop winter disconnections but provides customers extra protection from October 15 through April 15. The rule defines:
If you receive a Notice of Proposed Disconnect, CenterPoint Energy also will send you the following materials to help you manage your gas bill:
- Information about your rights and responsibilities
- Information about how to reduce energy use
- A list of agencies that help pay fuel bills
- A list of weatherization providers
What to do if you receive a Notice of Proposed Disconnect or if your service has been disconnected.
In order to avoid disconnection or to have service reconnected, you must either pay your bill in full or call CenterPoint Energy and enter into a Payment Plan. You must keep the Payment Plan during the Cold Weather Rule months in order to continue to receive protection from disconnection.
Payment Plan. You have the right to make a Payment Plan during the Cold Weather Rule months. To set up a Payment Plan, call CenterPoint Energy at 612-372-4680 or 800-729-6164 – no written application is required. If you and CenterPoint Energy agree on a Payment Plan, and you continue to make your payments, your natural gas service will not be shut off.
The Payment Plan will consider your financial circumstances, and any extenuating circumstances, and must be acceptable to you and CenterPoint Energy. It will cover what you owe plus the amount you will be billed during the period of the Payment Plan. Most payment plans under the Cold Weather Rule last until April 15 unless you agree on a different period. If you and CenterPoint Energy are unable to agree on a Payment Plan, you have a right to appeal.
CenterPoint Energy also can refer you to agencies that may be able to help you pay your fuel bills.
If you receive Energy Assistance, you are automatically eligible for protection under the Cold Weather Rule.
This will qualify you for special payment terms. Under these terms, CenterPoint Energy will not require that you pay more than 10 percent of your monthly household income for your natural gas bill. If you meet income guidelines set by the state government, but do not receive Energy Assistance, these special payment terms are also available to you when you provide proof of income.
If you find you are not able to make the payments as agreed upon, call CenterPoint Energy to request a change. If you and CenterPoint Energy are unable to agree on a Payment Plan, you have a right to appeal.
How do I apply for Cold Weather Rule protections?
Contact CenterPoint Energy to set up a Cold Weather Rule payment plan.
What happens after I apply?
If you make and keep a Cold Weather Rule payment plan, you are protected from disconnection or will be reconnected if already disconnected.
Right to appeal
If you and CenterPoint Energy cannot agree on the amount of your Payment Plan, a requested change to your Payment Plan, or your income level, you have the right to appeal. CenterPoint Energy will send you a notice of your right to appeal. This will include a form that must be sent to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) within 10 working days after it is mailed to you.
The MPUC will review your appeal. During this time CenterPoint Energy will not shut off your service or will reconnect your service if you have already been disconnected. The MPUC has 20 working days to make a decision about your Payment Plan after receiving the appeal form.
Third party notice option
CenterPoint Energy offers all customers the opportunity to have a third party notified if their gas service is to be shut off. A third party could be a friend, relative, church or community agency. This program helps those who live alone, senior citizens, those who are disabled and customers who do not read English.
How it works. The third party receives copies of all disconnection notices mailed to the customer, but is NOT required to pay the bills. By volunteering, the third party is able to receive and give information about personal circumstances and make a payment plan with CenterPoint Energy for the customer. This helps avoid the hardship that would result from service disconnection.
How to request third party notification. If you want to name a third party, please complete, print and mail the Third Party Notice form to CenterPoint Energy or complete the form online. If you know someone who could use third party help, please give them this form.
Other important information
If a medical emergency exists in the home, or if an interruption of service affects necessary medical equipment, please contact CenterPoint Energy at 612-372-4680 or 800-729-6164.