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Welcome! The Commission's news area contains items such as Commission announcements, important Notices and press releases. For older items, please use our archives on the right. Members of the media looking for commentary or an official statement should contact Will Seuffert at 651-201-2217.

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Cold Weather Rule

10/16/2019 11:44:28 AM

Emmalynn Bauer

News Release: Cold Weather Rule
As cold weather approaches, Commerce and the Public Utilities Commission remind Minnesotans about consumer protections and heating assistance For Immediate Release: 
 
SAINT PAUL, MN (October 16, 2019) - The Minnesota Department of Commerce and Minnesota Public Utilities Commission want to remind Minnesotans of the Energy Assistance Program and Cold Weather Rule – two programs that help if home heating costs are unaffordable. “The Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Energy Assistance Program is available to help Minnesotans pay for home heating costs and/or furnace repairs to ensure they stay warm all winter,” said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley. “We encourage households worried about the cost of heating, especially families with children, seniors, disabled persons and veterans, to apply.” “The Cold Weather Rule is a critically important law that ensures Minnesotans don’t have their primary source of heat cut off in the cold winter months,” added PUC Chair Katie Sieben. Energy Assistance Program Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program helps homeowners and renters with income at or below 50 percent of the state’s median income ($52,014 for a family of four) pay their heating bills. Last year, more than 125,000 Minnesota households received assistance with an average amount of $545 per household. The program can help pay energy bills, reconnect or prevent disconnection of utilities, deliver fuel, educate Minnesotans on energy efficiency and safety, and repair or replace homeowners’ broken heating systems. Commerce recently mailed applications to households that qualified for energy assistance last year. Commerce encourages others who may qualify to contact their local Energy Assistance Program service provider. Households can find their local service provider by calling 800-657-3710 or at the Commerce Department’s Energy Assistance Program webpage. Commerce administers the Energy Assistance Program in partnership with 29 local service providers throughout the state. It is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Commerce also administers the Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides energy efficiency improvements to reduce energy costs for households that meet income eligibility guidelines. Both homeowners and renters may apply for weatherization assistance. Other forms of assistance may be available through county social service programs, community-based organizations and nonprofit agencies.
 
Minnesota Cold Weather Rule Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule protects people from having their heat turned off for failing to pay their bill. The rule goes into effect on October 15 and ends on April 15. All electric and natural gas companies are required to offer this protection.
 
Under the Cold Weather Rule, customers who have a combined household income at or below 50 percent of the state median income ($52,014 for a family of four) are not required to pay more than 10 percent of their household income toward current and past heating bills. Additionally, others who struggle to pay heating bills may be able to arrange a Cold Weather Rule payment plan and should contact their service provider to discuss their options.
 
To prevent heating disconnection under the Cold Weather Rule, customers must first contact their utility to establish and maintain a monthly payment plan. Minnesotans who need to reconnect their service for the winter should contact their utility now to take advantage of the payment options.
 
The Cold Weather Rule does not apply to delivered fuels such as fuel oil, propane or wood. However, Minnesotans who use these fuels are encouraged to contact the companies serving them to discuss payment options if they are concerned about their ability to pay this winter. For example, a state law requires that propane distributors offer all customers a budget plan.
 
The Cold Weather Rule is administered by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). More information on the rule is available at the PUC website or by calling 651-296-0406 or 800-657-3782.
 
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With You Every Day
 
Wherever you are in Minnesota, the Department of Commerce is with you every day. Whether you’re filling up on gas, purchasing a home, working to reduce energy consumption or rebuilding after a disaster—we are with you, no matter what.
 
The Minnesota Commerce Department oversees more than 20 regulated industries, ensuring that Minnesota businesses are strong and Minnesota consumers are protected. Our mission is to protect the public interest, advocate for Minnesota consumers, ensure a strong, competitive and fair marketplace, strengthen the state’s economic future and serve as a trusted public resource for consumers and businesses.
 
Media Contact Emmalynn Bauer Director of Communications Minnesota Department of Commerce p: 651-539-1463 | emma.bauer@state.mn.us

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