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.