Cold Weather Rule

Your Rights Under the Minnesota Cold Weather Rule 


The Minnesota Cold Weather Rule protects residential utility customers during the cold winter months. Under this rule, your electric service will not be disconnected from October 15 through April 15 if you meet Cold Weather Rule requirements. 


Under this rule, your electric service will not be disconnected from October 15 through April 15 because of non-payment provided you meet ALL the following conditions: 


  • You declare an inability to pay.
  • Your total household, not individual, income is less than 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 15.
  • Or you mutually agree to a payment schedule with the Stearns Electric Association’s Billing Department.

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


The law does allow for Stearns Electric Association to disconnect when it is necessary from October 15 to April 15, so please act promptly. Stearns Electric Association works 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. This amount must be absorbed by members who faithfully pay their bill each month. Stearns Electric Association would rather work with members to establish and maintain adequate payment schedules of their past due bill, but sometimes disconnection must be made when necessary, within the limits of the law. Before disconnecting service to residential members from October 15 to April 15, the cooperative must provide the following information:


  • Notice of proposed disconnection(disconnection notice);
  • Statement explaining members’ rights and responsibilities;
  • List of energy assistance providers;
  • Forms available for members to request cold weather protection; and
  • A statement explaining the payment plan to secure continued service

Please contact the Stearns Electric Association Billing and Collections Department if you have any questions about the Cold Weather Rule or energy assistance programs (320) 256-4241 or toll-free at 1-800-962-0655 for more information.


For a printable guide to the Cold Weather Rule, click here.

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