Consumers having problems paying utility bills should contact their energy provider as soon as possible. Minnesota has the “Cold Weather Rule” that prohibits utility shutoffs from October 15 to April 15. However, you must apply for protection with your utility or the utility does have the right to disconnect your service.
Most Minnesota utility companies also offer bill paying options. Some assistance options have no income requirements. Contact your utility to learn how to keep your home safe and warm.
Low-income households may be eligible for the Energy Assistance Program (EAP). The program assists with energy bills, primarily through grants paid to the energy provider on behalf of the household. Funding is limited, so consumers are encouraged to sign up early. The Minnesota Department of Commerce administers EAP, which is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Learn more and get an application here.
The Weatherization Assistance Program assists low-income households by conducting energy conservation audits and safety inspections, upgrading wall and attic insulation, reducing air infiltration, and testing, repairing or replacing home mechanical systems. The Minnesota Department of Commerce administers this program, which is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Energy. Learn more and get an application here.
HeatShare provides emergency assistance with heating and utility bills on a year-round basis. Funds are used for natural gas, oil, propane, wood, electricity, and emergency furnace repairs. HeatShare is a voluntary nongovernmental program of The Salvation Army.
The Minnesota Family Investment Program, or MFIP, serves as Minnesota’s primary safety net program for low-income families with children. MFIP helps families meet their basic needs while working to achieve economic self-sufficiency. MFIP assistance payments include both cash and food assistance. MFIP participants are also provided employment services and work supports. Depending on the county they live in, MFIP families may be eligible for crisis funds that can be used to pay utility bills. Families can apply for these services at their local county human services agency.
The General Assistance (GA) program serves as Minnesota’s primary safety net for adults without children. The GA program provides monthly cash grants for vulnerable people whose income and resources are less than program limits. The grants can be used to pay for utility bills. For urgent, short-term emergency needs, the Emergency General Assistance program may provide one-time grants for basic needs, including utility connection charges, repairs to home heating systems, or to prevent utility companies from shutting off service to people in special situations. To apply for GA or EGA, contact your county human services agency or apply online at Applymn.org.
Minnesota Housing offers affordable home improvement programs that can be used by Minnesota residents for energy efficiency projects. The Fix-up Fund is a statewide program that offers affordable, low-interest fixed rate loans that can be used for energy efficiency improvements. The Rehabilitation Loan program assists low-income homeowners in financing basic home improvements that directly affect the safety, habitability, energy efficiency, or accessibility of their homes.
Federal, state, and local government may offer tax credits, loans, grants, or other incentives for energy investments. Utility companies may also offer rebates, loans, and incentives. The best place to find current descriptions and information is from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (www.dsireusa.org). Enter your state and utility selection to find what may be available for your energy project.