Saint Paul - The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced today that the state will receive $108 million in federal funds for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for the 2009-2010 winter heating season. The funding is being released now to ensure states have the resources available to support their energy assistance programs as the weather turns colder. The funds represent 75 percent of Minnesota's expected allocation.
"Minnesota has earned its reputation for cold winters and we want to ensure that everyone has access to heat this winter," said Commerce Commissioner Glenn Wilson. "The release of these federal funds allows us to begin helping low income households as the winter months approach."
LIHEAP is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce through 37 local service providers across the state. The program helps low-income customers pay their heating bills through grant money paid directly to the utility company on behalf of the customer. The 37 local service providers will receive funds in the next few days, allowing heating bill payments to begin flowing for the 52,000 households that have already applied for the program.
The average grant per household is about $600. Customers earning less than 50 percent of the state median income ($41,722 for a family of four) may qualify. Households with seniors, disabled, and children are especially encouraged to apply. Minnesota homeowners or renters are eligible. The program is administered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Households receiving Energy Assistance are automatically eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides home energy conservation audits, safety inspections, and furnace and indoor air quality inspections.
For more information on staying warm this winter, visit http://www.staywarm.mn.gov for details about heating assistance grants, gas and electric discount programs, weatherization help, and energy efficiency and safety tips. Or contact Minnesota's Energy Info Center at 651-296-5175 or toll free in Minnesota 1-800-657-3710.