Failure to pay due bills and a breach of deferred payments agreement -- that is, a payment plan for outstanding energy bills -- are sufficient grounds for cutting off your electric power supply. However, other than issuing advance notice, the electric company must consider the prevailing weather, the conditions of your household occupants and alternative payment options for settling your outstanding bills.
During winter, the utility company must contact an adult member of your household at least 72 hours before a disconnection. This contact must be made during business hours either by phone or through the company's representative. Nonetheless, disconnection policies for most states offer winter protections against arbitrary power shutoffs. The states require electric companies to offer extensions of up to 30 days to low-income households with senior citizens, children 18 years old and younger, disabled people and seriously ill occupants. Requests for health-related exceptions must be backed with physician certificates. Virginia, Kentucky, Alaska, Oregon, North Dakota and Tennessee do not offer date- and temperature-based protections from power shutoffs.