Account Information > Energy Assistance
Cold weather rule
If you are having a hard time paying your utility bills during the winter, it is important that you understand the Cold Weather Rule. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission set up the Cold Weather Rule to protect residential customers from being shut-off if you cannot pay your bill in full. This protection lasts from October 15 to April 15.
Notice of Residential Customer Rights and Possible Assistance
This notice informs you of your rights and responsibilities under the Cold Weather Law. It is 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 the utility service of a residential customer during the period between October 15 and April 15 if the disconnection affects the primary heat source for the residential unit when the following conditions are met:
- the household income of the customer is at or below 50 percent of the state median 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 they receive energy assistance or other type of public assistance that uses an income eligibility threshold set at or below 50 percent of the state median income;
- a customer enters into 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 programs, weatherization, conservation, or other programs likely to reduce the customer's energy bills.
The Cold Weather Law 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 declare to complete the Cold Weather Disconnect Form you must return it to us within 15 days of the notice to disconnect. 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 20 days after the postmark on the notice to disconnect or until 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 actually 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 Tri-County Electric Cooperative 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 Law conditions
If you meet all the conditions of the Cold Weather Law as outlined , can’t pay your electric bill and need cold weather protection from utility shutoff, download and complete the Cold Weather Disconnect Protection Form and return it to Tri-County Electric Cooperative immediately along with your income documentation. The following is a list of energy assistance providers serving Tri-County Electric Cooperative:
- SEMCAC - Rushford - 1-800-944-3281
- Fillmore Co. Social Services - 1-507-765-2175
- Houston Co. Social Services - 1-507-725-5811
- Winona Co. Human Services - 1-507-457-6200
- NE Iowa Community Action Corp. - 1-563-382-9608
What to do if you don’t meet the Cold Weather Law conditions
If you do not meet all the conditions of the Cold Weather Law as outlined in this brochure, 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 Tri-County Electric at 1-800-432-2285 BEFORE the due date.