Donâ??t have your AC shut off in the heat
Fri, 30 Aug 2013 20:55:23 GMT —
Temperatures outside are near the century mark. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, that means you'll be miserable indoors as well as out. In the state of Missouri, residents are protected by the Hot Weather Rule.
In extremely hot weather, the law prevents residents from having their electric or natural gas service disconnected because of non-payment.
â??That would be anytime it's expected to be 95 degrees or higher, or the heat index is supposed to be 105 expected over the next 24 hours,â?? said Ameren Missouri Spokeswoman Annette Sweet.
Sweet said the Hot Weather Rule only applies if your power had not already been shut off.
â??If you're electricity was already disconnected before it got hot it doesn't have any effect and it only applies to residential customers.â??
Sweet said Ameren has already not disconnected customerâ??s service because of the law. But, what if your utility company shuts you off? What is their penalty?
â??Typically when the legislature creates a statute like this that prohibits something the next thing is, â??Ok the legislature has given me a right to something now they have to give me a remedy...and what's my remedy?â?? And, a lot of times it will be in the statute or in another statute within the same chapter saying â??Ok the utility company violated this, therefore you as a customer get this remedy.â?? Well, itâ??s not in there,â?? said Benson Law Firm Attorney Mark Williams. â??We tried to find a case in the Appellate Court that would tell us what the remedy was and there's nothing out there. There's nothing in the chapter itself that helps us out.â??
The law does not state a remedy, but Attorney Mark Williams said you do have options.
â??What this does do as far as a remedy, the remedy that you would have is that if you were somehow damaged this creates a duty upon the utility companies to keep your electric and gas going,â?? Williams said. â??If they breech that duty and something happens to you, it allows you to sue them.â??
KTVO contacted the Missouri Public Service Commission and they stated that if your electric is turned off, call your utility company. If it is not turned back on, call the Missouri Consumer Services Unit and file a complaint.
If that doesnâ??t work, you always have legal options. Sweet said donâ??t let it get to that point.
â??If you feel like you may have trouble paying a bill, it's always a good idea to just go ahead and call because thereâ??s Budget Billing, which a lot of customers take advantage of and allows you to pay a level set amount each month,â?? she said. â??We can occasionally make other arrangements based on the circumstances, and then third they could make referrals to agencies or social services that may have some funding available to help people in certain income categories.â??
The hot weather law is in effect from June 1 through September 30.