Natural gas cold weather rule starts

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Posted: Sunday, November 4, 2018 5:53 am | Updated: 6:26 am, Sun Nov 4, 2018.

LINCOLN - The Nebraska Public Service Commission’s cold weather rule took effect Nov. 1.

The cold weather rule provides financially-strapped customers of Nebraska’s jurisdictional natural gas utilities a little extra time to pay their bills.

The PSC’s cold weather rule applies only to customers of the state’s jurisdictional utilities, Black Hills Energy, which now includes both Black Hills and legacy SourceGas Distribution service territories and Northwestern Energy.

From Nov. 1 through March 31, Black Hills and Northwestern may not shut off service to customers without allowing an additional 30 days to pay beyond the normal bill due date.

“We’ve already experienced a taste of what may be this winter,” said commission chair Mary Ridder. “The cold weather rule enables natural gas suppliers and customers to work together to ensure service for everyone during a time when natural gas bills are often the highest.”

Customers finding it difficult to pay natural gas bills should contact the company to arrange payment. Customers can also contact local public assistance agencies for help with natural gas bills.

The PSC implemented the cold weather rule when it was given regulatory authority over the state’s jurisdictional utilities in 2003. Nebraska communities served by municipally owned natural gas utilities are not subject to regulation by the commission and are not required to comply with the cold weather rule.

Consumers are reminded that minimizing the impact of higher natural gas prices during the winter is also important. Consumers can help lower costs by setting thermostats a little cooler. Gas utilities recommend 68 degrees or lower, and to reduce thermostat settings when a home or building is unoccupied. Gas appliances and space-heaters should be checked for efficient operation. A home energy audit can identify ways to conserve energy and gas companies’ yearly budget plan can spread costs throughout the year.

© 2018 The Creighton News . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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