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Minnesota receives $116 million in federal funds for heating assistance this winter

10/29/2018 10:28:24 AM

Low-income Minnesotans encouraged to apply for Energy Assistance Program

For Immediate Release

SAINT PAUL – The Minnesota Commerce Department announced that the state’s Energy Assistance Program is receiving more than $116 million ($116,287,653) in federal funding to help low-income Minnesotans pay their heating bills this winter.

The funds from the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) reduce home heating costs by making payments directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of eligible Minnesota homeowners and renters.

“The Energy Assistance Program is an essential safety net for Minnesotans who struggle to pay their energy bills and stay warm throughout the winter,” said Commerce Commissioner Looman, whose agency administers the program in partnership with 29 local service providers throughout the state.

Minnesotans who have difficulty paying their heating bills are encouraged to apply for energy assistance, especially households with seniors, small children, people with disabilities or veterans.

Energy assistance is available for homeowners and renters who earn less than 50 percent of the state’s median income ($49,698 for a family of four). Last year the program served more than 126,000 Minnesota households, with an average grant of about $545. Some households also received help to address no-heat crisis situations or repair broken heating systems. 

Fuel prices are forecasted to be slightly higher than last winter, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Even modest increases in heating use and energy prices can be a financial challenge for low-income households. 

How to apply for heating assistance

Local service providers have already received and reviewed thousands of energy assistance applications, and payments for many who qualify may begin as early as this week.

There is still plenty of time for new applicants and those who qualified last year to reapply, but funding is limited and administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications will be accepted until May 31, 2019, or until funds run out.

Minnesotans should submit an application to the local service provider in their area. To get more information about the program and contact your local service provider, call 800-657-3710 or visit the Energy Assistance section of the Commerce Department website (mn.gov/commerce).

Cold Weather Rule protection

In addition to applying for heating assistance, low-income Minnesotans are encouraged to contact their utility and seek protection under the state’s Cold Weather Rule. 

The Cold Weather Rule, in effect from Oct. 15 to April 15, protects residential utility customers from having their heat shut off.

Customers must contact their utility to establish and maintain a monthly payment plan. Households that need to reconnect for winter should contact their utility now to take advantage of the payment options.

Minnesotans who use delivered fuels such as propane, fuel oil or wood to heat their homes are not covered by the Cold Weather Rule, but they are eligible for financial help from the Energy Assistance Program.

More information on shut-off protection and the Cold Weather Rule is available at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission website (mn.gov/puc) or by calling 651-296-0406 or 800-657-3782.

Media Contact
Ross Corson
Director of Communications
Minnesota Department of Commerce
p: 651-539-1463 | c: 651-368-5050 | ross.corson@state.mn.us

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