skip to content
Primary navigation

COVID-19 Pandemic:
Help for Consumers

Call Us for Help

The PUC Consumer Affairs Office (CAO) is here to answer questions and help you find the assistance programs you need to help you pay your bills and avoid disconnection. In 2021, additional funding was approved. If you have never qualified or received payment assistance before, you might qualify now!

Contact us at 651-296-0406, or 1-800-657-3782. Email at

Energy Assistance Program

More Minnesotans than ever qualify for the Energy Assistance Program.
Over 600,000 Minnesota households, including homeowners and rents, are eligible for Energy Assistance.
You could receive up to $2,000 for energy bills and may qualify for an additional $3,000 to cover past-due bills.
The Department of Commerce runs this program. Applications accepted November 1 - May 31. 

Or call 800-657-3710 and press "1" for help finding your Energy Assistance Provider.

Cold Weather Rule Protections

The Cold Weather Rule is in effect October 1 to April 30. 

Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule (CWR) is a law that is administered by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. It protects residential utility customers from having their electric or natural gas heat source shut off during the cold weather months. Both renters and homeowners may apply for this protection. 

To apply for CWR protection, contact your natural gas or electric company and request a Cold Weather Rule (CWR) payment plan. Payment plans can be established at any time during the CWR season. If you are unable to agree on a payment amount with your natural gas or electric utility, you have the right to appeal.

Home Weatherization Funding

Households could qualify for the Minnesota Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps fund home improvements that will conserve energy and permanently lower energy costs. This programs is run by the Department of Commerce.

Telephones and Internet Programs

You may qualify for help with your phone or internet bill through the state’s Telephone Assistance Plan or the federal Lifeline program. The Affordable Connectivity Program is available from the FCC to help households afford internet service. Find out if you qualify.

Past-Due Bill Payment Plans

Consumers with past-due bills can call their utility and request a plan to pay what they owe. Until April 30, 2022, regulated utilities will not charge late fees or penalties for consumers who have entered into and are complying with their payment plan (you are allowed one missed payment if you agree to re-enter their plan ).

Contact Your Utility!

Residential utility  customers who need help with their electric, natural gas or telephone bill because of the impacts of COVID-19 should contact their utility. Customer Service agents are trained to connect you to the help you need, like payment plans and energy assistance.

CenterPoint Energy 
Call: 612-372-4727 or 800-245-2377
CenterPoint Energy website 
Translation available at bottom of COVID-19 Page.

Dakota Electric Association
Call: 651-463-6212 or 800-874-3409
Dakota Electric Association website
Translation available on COVID Page.

Greater MN Gas
Call: 888-931-3411
Greater MN Gas website 

Great Plains Natural Gas
Call: 877-267-4764
Great Plains Natural Gas website 
Great Plains Natural Gas website Español  

MN Energy Resources Corporation
Call: 800-889-9508
MN Energy Resources Corporation website 
MN Energy Resources Corporation website Español: 

MN Power
Call: 800-228-4966
MN Power website 
Translation available at top of Home Page.

Otter Tail Power Company
Call 800-257-4044 or 218-739-8877
Your Rights and Protections | Otter Tail Power Company website 
Translation available at bottom of Home Page.

Xcel Energy
Call: 800-895-4999
Xcel Energy website 
Translation available on middle of COVID-19 Page.

PUC Response

Following the declaration of a peacetime emergency in March 2020, the PUC called on all Minnesota utilities to institute the following consumer protections:

  • Restrict disconnection of residential customers for nonpayment of utility bills and reconnect customers who were disconnected;
  • Waive late fees that any residential or small business customer incurred because of the pandemic;
  • Arrange payment plans.

As the pandemic progressed, the PUC worked with Minnesota’s eight rate-regulated, gas and electric utilities  to establish monthly compliance reporting, including the dollar amount of unpaid, residential customer bills and the number of customers signing up for energy assistance and payment plans. The rate-regulated utilities continued to suspend disconnections for non-payment and the collection of service fees, including suspension of negative credit reporting.

After nearly a year of these customer protections and reporting, the PUC oversaw the resumption of normal service, requiring transition plans and enhanced communications . Per those transition plans, many rate-regulated utilities resumed disconnections for customers with outstanding debts in August 2021. This date was targeted to allow customers time to take advantage of energy assistance and bill payment programs. These transition plans and all reporting can be found in docket No. 20-375 found in our eDockets system

Further Commission action prompted an end to negative credit reporting for consumers who have past-due utility bills. Overdue payments reported to credit reporting companies can result in consumers having lower credit scores and reducing the consumer’s ability to obtain credit or loans.

PUC Meetings

The Public Utilities Commission will continue to offer virtual participation options for all public meetings including:

  • Agenda meetings, where Commissioners make decisions,
  • Planning meetings, where Commissioners learn about important issues in the State,
  • Public meetings and hearings to share information and gather the public’s comments about individual utility projects, like a new solar farm.

Access a meeting webcast, view agendas, and learn about accessing a meeting in-person. There are options to watch meetings on your computer and listen to some types of meetings by calling on your telephone.

The public can attend all Commission meetings in-person.

Agenda meetings and Planning meetings are being held in the Commission office. Public meetings and hearings are often held near the project being discussed; learn more by reading notices filed in eDockets for the projects that impact you. PUC meetings will follow relevant public safety protocols, like masks and social distancing, as current COVID situations require.

back to top