Minnesota's cold-weather rule began Thursday, however, the state already has rules in place preventing utility companies from disconnecting services through the end of Gov. Tim Walz's COVID-19 peacetime emergency.

Currently, the peacetime emergency, which began in March, is scheduled to end Nov. 12 unless extended again.

The state's cold-weather rule, in place from Oct. 15 to April 15 every year, protects customers who are having difficulty making utility payments, according to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. To prevent people's heating sources from being cut off, the rule allows customers to make payment plans with electric and natural gas companies.

Even though people's services cannot be disconnected during the peacetime emergency, Minnesota Power encouraged customers in a news release to still call and set up payment plans in order to "avoid building up large balances that would be harder to pay later."

Due to the pandemic, Minnesota Power is also waiving late fees and reconnection fees in addition to extending payment plans and not disconnecting services.

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Prior to the peacetime emergency, utility companies were not required to offer additional arrangements to customers who broke their payment plan.

Those eligible for assistance can apply for money from the company's energy assistance program or for a discount under the company's "CARE" program. To learn more, visit mnpower.com/customerservice/energyassistance and mnpower.com/customerservice/careprogram.

Minnesota Power also reminded customers to be aware of scam calls threatening power shutoffs and demanding immediate payment.

"Minnesota Power does not call customers to demand immediate payment, and does not ask for credit or debit card account numbers or threaten disconnection over the phone," the release said.

Customers receiving such calls are advised to hang up and call Minnesota Power at 800-228-4966 if they have concerns.