The Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) put a rule in place 14 years ago to help some natural gas customers keep the heat on during the winter months.
The Cold Weather Rule specifically protects people struggling to pay their natural gas bill.
“For the beginning of November through the end of March, Nebraska’s jurisdictional natural gas companies – that’s Black Hills, Black Hills Distribution – formerly SourceGas Distribution – and Northwestern Energy – may not shut off service to customers without allowing an additional 30 days for them to pay their bills,” Deb Collins, PSC media and communications manager, tells Nebraska Radio Network.
The rule does not cover municipally-run utilities, but many delay shut-offs during freezing weather.
Collins says customers who cannot pay their bill on time need to contact their gas company.
“If you’re having difficulties, you should get ahold of the gas utility, the company, and arrange with them for payment,” she advises. “It’s an opportunity for the consumer and the company to work together to ensure that everybody stays warms this winter and can make those payments.”
PSC also recommends all homeowners, and business owners, take steps to winterize their home or office and reduce heating bills.
“You can obtain a home energy audit to identify ways to conserve energy and participate in your gas company’s yearly budget plan, if they have one,” Collins says. “You can also improve the insulation in your home and installing storm windows and doors, attaching clear plastic to the inside or outside of windows and screen doors, and covering the window air conditioners, if you happen to have one.”
Local public assistance agencies might help with natural gas bills as well, but Collins says contact the gas company first.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:42]