PSC Approves Rule Allowing Minimum Payment to Avoid Utility Cut-Offs

NOVEMBER 23, 2005 - Posted at 7:47 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansans who can't afford to pay high heating bills will be able to avoid utility cutoffs by paying about half their bill at a time.

The Arkansas Public Service Commission announced on Tuesday a rule setting the minimum payments.  The rule is a revision of a regulation that governs service disconnections during cold weather from December 1 to March 31.

The new rule would apply to customers meeting low-income guidelines.  It is an attempt to accomodate utilities who had objected to a proposal from the PSC staff to ban wintertime cutoffs to elderly and low-income customers.

Under the rule announced Tuesday, the unpaid portion of a bill will be deferred until April.

The rule was adopted in light of predictions that natural gas bills could be 15 percent higher this winter than last.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)