Residents get power shut off after cold weather rule

Update: Monday Feb. 21st at 10:50 p.m.: The rising temperatures mid Missouri experienced last week have left hundreds of cash-strapped families without utilities.You can blame a loophole in the cold weather rule that allows utility companies to disconnect heat-related services when the temperature stays above 32 degrees for a 24-hour period.Some say Missouri's rule should not depend on the daily forecast, but rather should be in effect for a block of time from November through March."This week may be warm but next week's going get cold again, winter's not over," James Johnson said, who had his power shut off this week at his home in Callaway County. The Missouri Public Service Commission said the rule is working."The amount of customers that are on financial assistance has only grown with the financial crisis, Missouri public service commission chairman Kevin Gunn said. What this rule is designed to do is literally protect these rate-payers lives and make sure that they are not injured, harmed or killed by the freezing temperatures."

But many of you said just the opposite on our facebook page.

I don't think they should be allowed to shut it off at all., KRCG facebook friend patty said. Some people just need some help!

I think they need to lower the prices so that people can pay and work with them on getting it paid down, KRCG facebook friend brandy said. A lot of people have to decide whether or not they need to eat or pay their bills.

The rule doesn't apply to municipally operated systems, cooperatives and propane companies but many follow it anyway.

Johnson's provider is the Callaway Electric Cooperative.

They don't follow the rule exactly, but they said they won't disconnect service if the forecast calls for below freezing temperatures.

Johnson and his 13-year old son survive on his disability checks with most of that money going to car repairs.

His brother said something has to give.

"When you're on a fixed income and you're paying for gas and everything else, food prices went up, gas prices went up, and they're now starting to cut this out, cut that out, what are these people going to do when they do start cutting all of that out? They're not going to be able to make it," brother Gene Johnson said.

James Johnson said the company only added insult to injury when they disconnected his service.

"I said I thought it was against the law and they kind of laughed at me and they said it's a warm day so we've gotta disconnect ya," James Johnson said.

Callaway Electric said they try to give three notices by mail before disconnection.

At our deadline the co-op had about 140 accounts that could disconnected.

The chairman of the Missouri public service commission said the rule is reviewed on a regular basis.

He said they have actually had proposals to also implement a hot weather rule.

If your services have been shut off or believe they could be, contact your utility provider to work out a payment plan. Original Story: KRCG is looking into utilities shutting off power or natural gas service because of the recent warm weather.Some have complained that electric/gas companies are inoring Missouri's Cold Weather Rule that states that companies can't turn off your heat-related services when it's forecasted to drop below 32 degrees. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be warm but what happens it gets cold again? Do you think the law should be different?