Low-income Minnesotans who may have trouble paying their heating bills this heating season can act now to (1) ensure that their heat stays on and (2) apply for help to pay their heating bills.
Cold Weather Rule protection. Minnesota has a Cold Weather Rule that takes effect on Oct. 15 and protects residential utility customers from having their heat shut off through April 15, 2014. But to prevent heating disconnection, customers must contact their utility to set up a monthly payment plan. Households that need to reconnect their heat for this winter should call their utility company now to take advantage of these payment options.
The Cold Weather Rule is administered by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. More information on the rule is available at the PUC website or by calling 651-296-7124 or 800-657-3782.
Energy Assistance Program. To help pay home heating costs, Minnesota offers the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as the Energy Assistance Program (EAP). EAP, federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, helps renters and homeowners earning less than 50 percent of the state’s median income ($43,642 for a family of four) obtain grant money to help pay their heating bills. The average annual EAP grant per household last year was $500.
Households with seniors, disabled residents, and children are especially encouraged to apply for EAP. Applications were recently sent to households that qualified for EAP last year; others who may qualify are encouraged to apply. To apply, contact the local service provider in your county by calling 1-800-657-3710 or visiting the EAP section on the Division of Energy Resources website.
Other forms of assistance may be available through county social service programs, community-based organizations and nonprofit agencies. For a list of resources, visit the Stay Warm Minnesota webpage.
Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the division’s Energy Information Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.