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Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule will take effect Thursday

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ST. PAUL -- With Minnesota's first taste of winter arriving earlier than expected, Gov. Tim Pawlenty is reminding families who are having trouble paying their heating bills to contact their local utility company right away.

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Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule, which takes effect Thursday, protects residential utility customers from having their heat shut off through April 15, provided they contact their utility to set up a payment plan.

"Staying warm during a Minnesota winter is not an option, it's a necessity," Pawlenty said in a news release. "As people begin thinking about winter, we want to make sure everyone is aware of Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule. Working out a payment plan with a utility will keep the heat on for Minnesota families who are facing financial challenges."

Administered by the Public Utilities Commission, the Cold Weather Rule requires local utility companies to offer home heating shut-off protection to customers who call their utility company and set up a payment plan in exchange for keeping their heat on until April 15, 2010.

Households who need to reconnect their heat for this winter should call their utility company now to take advantage of these payment options. Most utilities offer bill payment options that help even out the payment amounts over several months.

Minnesota consumers using delivered fuels such as fuel oil, propane or wood to heat their homes are not covered by the Cold Weather Rule.

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