Minnesota Cold Weather Rule

September 27, 2021

Minnesota Cold Weather Rule Extended Due to Omnibus Bill

The Minnesota Cold Weather Rule, under statute (216B.097), protects residential utility customers during the cold winter months. Under this rule, your electric service will not be disconnected for non-payment between October 1 and April 30 if electricity is the primary heat source and you meet Cold Weather Rule requirements.

To qualify, you must meet ALL the following conditions:

  • You declare an inability to pay by completing the “Inability to Pay Form”.
  • Your total household, not individual, income is at or below 50% of the state median income. You must provide the necessary documentation to support this condition.
  • Your account is current for the billing period immediately prior to October 1, or you mutually agree to a payment arrangement with the Stearns Electric Billing Department.

If you do not meet all of these listed conditions, then you do not qualify for the winter shut-off protection. However, you can still continue to receive electric service if you call us to make a mutually acceptable payment arrangement.

The law does allow for Stearns Electric to disconnect when it is necessary from October 1 to April 30, so please act promptly. Before disconnecting electric service during this time, Stearns Electric must provide:

  • A 30-day notice of disconnection;
  • A statement of members’ rights and responsibilities;
  • A list of local energy assistance providers;
  • Forms on which to request Cold Weather Rule protection; and
  • A statement explaining available payment plans and other options to continue service.

To avoid a disconnection under the Cold Weather Rule (CWR), you must make and keep an acceptable payment arrangement with the Cooperative and meet all the conditions listed above. This applies to all residential customers, including senior citizens and families with young children. If you make and keep a CWR payment arrangement, you are protected until April 30.

Stearns Electric works closely with members during the Cold Weather Rule period, just as we do throughout the year. We don’t want to interrupt service to any member, but in a cooperative, all members suffer when any bill remains unpaid. Stearns Electric would rather work with members to establish and maintain adequate payment arrangements of their past due bill, but sometimes a disconnection must take place.

Please contact Stearns Electric during regular business hours if you have any questions about the Cold Weather Rule or Energy Assistance Programs.