4/28/2016 10:12:48 AM
SAINT PAUL – The snow may be gone. But many Minnesotans are still digging out from under winter heating bills and, with the end of the Cold Weather Rule on April 15, some may even face disconnection of their utilities because of unpaid bills.
For Minnesota households struggling with their energy bills, help from the state’s Energy Assistance Program (EAP) is available until July 1. The program helps low-income homeowners and renters pay their bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies or fuel vendors on their behalf.
“There are still many Minnesotans who need help to pay current and past-due heating bills,” said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “We urge all Minnesotans who may qualify to apply for energy assistance, whether their bills are for natural gas, electricity or delivered fuel.”
The program helps homeowners and renters who earn less than 50 percent of the state’s median income ($46,056 for a family of four) obtain grant money to help pay their energy bills.
An estimated 70 percent of Minnesota households that are eligible for energy assistance have not applied.
Last year, the program served nearly 139,000 Minnesota households. The average grant was just over $500. Households receiving assistance had an average income of $17,423.
The number of households requesting energy assistance this year is down by nearly 16,000 from last year.
With funds still available, Minnesotans who have difficulty paying their energy bills are encouraged to apply. Households with children under the age of six, people with disabilities, veterans and seniors are especially encouraged to apply.
The Commerce Department administers the Energy Assistance Program in partnership with 31 local service providers throughout the state. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
New applications will be accepted until July 1. Funding is administered on a first-come, first-served basis, so households are urged to apply as soon as possible.
Qualifying households must apply for assistance through the local service provider in their area. To find the provider in your area, call 800-657-3710 or /commerce/eap.jspvisit the Energy Assistance Program section of the Commerce Department’s website.
Other forms of assistance may be available through county social service programs, community-based organizations and nonprofit agencies.
For more information on energy topics, contact the Commerce Department’s Energy Information Center by phone at 651-539-1886 or 800-657-3710 (Greater Minnesota) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.