The heat index has reached triple digits for more than a week and shows little sign of relenting, putting a strain on residents' utility budgets.
But the extreme heat isn't a primary reason a Marshall resident said the utility shouldn't yet turn off his power.
The man contacted The Marshall Democrat-News to complain that Marshall Municipal Utilities doesn't provide a grace period after the payment due date, and the company's policy doesn't provide for payment arrangements.
"July 5 was the due date," he said. "They sent out a (shut-off) notice on the seventh."
What rules does MMU have to follow in its billing policies?
Because MMU is an independent municipal power company, it doesn't fall under the guidelines of the Missouri Public Service Commission, which regulates investor-owned companies.
Electric companies under PSC's umbrella include Ameren Missouri, Empire District Electric Company and KCP&L.
These companies typically assess delinquent charges for outstanding payments. MMU does not, nor does a separate governing body require it to.
"In the case of a board of public works, (officials) are appointed by elected representatives of the city," said Floyd Gilzow, chief operating officer and director of member relations for the Missouri Association of Municipal Utilities.
The Board of Public Works holds meetings once a month, which are open to the public. In essence, residents of the community -- represented by the MMU Board of Public Works -- run municipal power.
Currently, discontinuance notices are usually mailed a day after the due date, according to Ken Gieringer, MMU administrative services director. Factors can alter the mailing date, however, such as extreme heat -- the Hot Weather Rule being a state law that all utility companies must comply with.
This law, Section 660.123, states utilities cannot discontinue service when the National Weather Service has predicted extreme heat for the following day.
"This covers every utility in the state," Gilzow continued. "This is an issue of human life."
The customer says his issue was as well -- that his children are on breathing machines and Missouri Valley Community Action Agency doesn't have enough state funding to support him. He says MMU should feel more obligated to work with people's payments, because the utility is their only choice.
"We can't get service from another company," he said. "MMU is the only option."
MMU sends bills three weeks prior to the due date. The "grace period" is five days, beginning the day the termination notice is mailed.
"There's no 'nice' notice and no 'mean' notice," Gieringer stated, adding different termination letters can't be mailed to customers who typically do pay on time.
Because Marshall generates its own power, when customers don't pay it only hurts other customers, according to Gilzow, who noted the amount of labor to generate power is a cost that is passed on to consumers.
Though options may seem few and far between, the Board of Public Works is available for residents' suggestions, which can range from adding return envelopes with customers' bills to offering a payment plan. Suggestions can be emailed to email@example.com.
For those who live in older properties, weatherizing your home reduces energy use and adds to your home's value. This can include updating windows, sealing cracks around doorways and installing new insulation.
Weatherization assistance is available from Missouri Valley Community Action Agency. It provides home weatherization for eligible homeowners, landlords and renters. Information can be found online at www.mvcaa.net or by calling 660-886-7476.
Contact Sarah Reed at