Notice of Residential Customer Rights

The Cold Weather Rule governs disconnection of residential utility customers who are unable to pay for utility service during cold weather.  To be eligible for Cold Weather Rule protections, a customer’s account needs to be current as of October 15.  The Cold Weather Rule applies from October 15 to April 15.

The purpose of this page is to inform you of your rights and responsibilities under the Cold Weather Rule. If you choose not to assert your rights or choose not to enter into a mutually acceptable payment agreement, your service may be disconnected.


THE RIGHT to declare your inability to pay your utility bill.  If you declare Inability to Pay, you must enter into a payment schedule with the Owatonna Public Utilities to maintain your service.  You have the right to appeal any proposed disconnect to OPU.  You will have to provide proof that you are unable to pay and were current in payments to us.  Your service will not be disconnected until this appeal is resolved.  Appeals are resolved locally.

THE RESPONSIBILITY, if you prove Inability to Pay, to complete the “Inability to Pay” form and return it to the Owatonna Public Utilities within 10 days.  If you are receiving Energy Assistance or any form of public assistance and can document that for us, you do not have to fill out an Inability to Pay form.  If you mail this form or can prove your receipt of public assistance, you must also contact the Owatonna Public Utilities to arrange a payment plan.


THE RIGHT to a mutually acceptable payment schedule with the Owatonna Public Utilities.  This payment schedule will cover your existing arrears plus the estimated usage during the payment schedule period.  If you are able to pay but still wish to enter into a payment schedule, contact the Owatonna Public Utilities immediately to arrange a schedule.  (This payment schedule may be arranged by your designated third party.

THE RESPONSIBILITY of making payments as agreed or promptly notifying the Owatonna Public Utilities why you cannot keep the agreement.  You may then request that the original payment schedule be changed.  Any change is initially subject to the Owatonna Public Utilities’ approval.


THE RIGHT to request that the Owatonna Public Utilities notify a third party if your service becomes subject to disconnection.  If you have requested a third party notification, a copy of this notice has been sent to the third party.

THE RESPONSIBILITY to receive Budget Counseling from the local energy assistance provider or other financial counseling organization.



Where Can You Receive Financial Assistance?

If you need help paying your gas or electric heating bills, you may qualify for state or federal assistance. For complete qualifications and application information, contact the SEMCAC – Fuel Assistance office at 1-800-944-3281 or 507-451-7134.

Other organizations that may be able to assist you are:
Steele County Human Services 1-507-444-7500
The Salvation Army Heat Share Program 1-800-842-7279