For Immediate Release: Thursday April 7, 2011
Minnesota to Get Another $1.5 million in Energy Assistance Funds
Grant Money Still Available for Low-Income Households
(ST. PAUL, MN) The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security (OES) today announced Minnesota will receive an additional $1.5 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP). This allocation will bring the total federal funds received by the state for the current heating season to approximately $152 million.
"Although Cold Weather Rule protections will end on April 15, we want consumers to know that money is still available to help low-income households struggling to pay energy bills," said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman.
Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule, administered by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, protects residential utility customers from having their heat shut off in the winter months between October 15 and April 15. But chilly spring evenings and a few cooler days will require many Minnesotans to keep their heat running. That is an additional cost that many low-income households struggling to pay all of their bills will not be able to bear.
The Minnesota Energy Assistance Program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and pays utilities directly on behalf of eligible households. Households apply for the Energy Assistance Program through 36 local service providers. The average grant per household is about $500. Customers with incomes below 50 percent of the state median income ($43,500 for a family of four) may qualify. Those with seniors, people with disabilities, and children are especially encouraged to apply. Households have until May 31 to apply. Qualified applicants will be served on a first-come-first-serve basis while funds last.
With 153,847 households served by early April - nearly a 5 percent increase over the number of households served at this time last year - the Energy Assistance Program is on course for another record-breaking year. Households that have already received assistance this heating season, which started October 1, 2010 are not eligible for the primary grant. However, additional benefits may be available for those facing an emergency such as disconnection of service.
Qualifying families must apply for assistance at the service provider in their area. A list of local service providers and more information about the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program can be found at www.staywarm.mn.gov by clicking on "Low Income Assistance" or by calling 651-296-5175 or toll free in Minnesota 1-800-657-3710.
The Energy Assistance Program is federally-funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human and administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.