Focus on New Laws: Extension of Cold Weather Rule Shut-Off Protection

August 9, 2021

The new law extends the window of time customers can avoid shut-off of residential utilities.

A new law changes the cold weather rule and associated notification and disconnection requirements for residential utilities. First Special Session Chapter 4, article 8, sections 10-15 includes changes that extend the protected period providing seasonal options for residential customers to avoid shut-off and require reconnection of service by two weeks in each direction — from October 1 until April 30, instead of the current window of October 15 to April 15. The dates were changed in all relevant statutory references.

Section 10 of the law was effective June 27, 2021, while sections 11-15 became effective July 1, 2021.

Changes to cold weather rule statute

  • Residential disconnection notification limitations in Minnesota Statutes, section 216B.097, subdivision 2 have the same date adjustment and also add the requirement that the disconnection notice be sent to the local energy assistance provider and the state Dept. of Commerce. Similarly, the annual notification of billing rights and responsibilities timeline was also moved two weeks earlier, to occur between Aug. 15 and Oct. 1.
  • Changes to Minnesota Statutes, section 216B.097, subdivision 3 apply to remote disconnection through advanced metering, to change the time limit for disconnection to 30 days after notice is mailed (currently 20 days), and to clarify other criteria that must be met prior to disconnection.
  • New language was added to Minnesota Statutes, section 216B.097, subdivision 5 to clarify that a municipal utility or electric cooperative can recover reasonable costs for disconnecting and reconnecting customers either physically or remotely.

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