The Montana Public Service Commission will hold a public roundtable May 5, to discuss proposed changes to the Commission’s gas and electric service termination rules. PSC spokesman Eric Sell explains the current rule.

“From November 1 through April 1, the utility can’t shut off the service if you meet certain criteria,” said Sell. “Those criteria are if you are over the age of 62, under the federal poverty line, receive some for of public assistance, or have a medical exemption. It is your responsibility to let the utility know if you meet one of those requirements.”

According to Sell, the PSC is looking at shortening that winter moratorium. Sell says some customers don’t pay all winter long and then have a massive bill as a result.

“These rules were put in place in 1980 and there haven’t really been any changes made since then,” Sell said. “We are just looking at it and I know a lot of folks are probably scratching their head why the PSC is looking at these rules because they seem to work just fine. Well, we are finding out that these rules don’t work just fine. We are brainstorming to decide if there in anything we can do to improve them.”

According to PSC records, last winter public utilities requested permission to shut off gas or electric services to 7,831 delinquent customers. The PSC approved of nearly 2,000 of those requests, all of whom were North Western Energy customers.