RRC passes emergency rule to stop discontinuance of natural gas during winter months

The Texas Railroad Commission today adopted an emergency rule to stop discontinuance of natural gas service during winter months. In 1999, at least 21 people died in Texas from hypothermia; of those 21, at least 17 (81 percent) were age 60 or older and many of them died unexpectedly in their own homes. Without adequate heat, many people, especially the elderly, are in danger long before the temperature drops to freezing. “Our action today protects disadvantaged Texans, especially children and the elderly, when winter temperatures drop towards freezing,” Williams said. “We do not want Texans forced to choose between home heat and other needs.” Under the new rule, ‘ Natural gas utility companies may not disconnect a customer on a day when the previous day’s temperature in the county where the customer takes service fell below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the National Weather Service predicts that the temperature in the county will fall below that level during the next 24 hours; ‘ Providers may not disconnect service to a delinquent residential customer for a billing period in which the provider receives a pledge, letter of intent, purchase order, or other notification from an energy assistance provider that is forwarding sufficient payment to continue service; ‘ Providers may not disconnect service to a delinquent residential customer on a day, or on a day immediately preceding a day, when personnel of the provider are not available for the purpose of receiving payment or making collections or reconnecting service, and ‘ Providers are also encouraged to offer customers a deferred payment plan as set forth in the Commission’s quality of service rule, 16 TAC ‘7.45(2), or a level or average payment plan. Text of the emergency rule will be provided on the Railroad Commission Web site at www.rrc.state.tx.us

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