The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is Open
If any Minnesotan needs information or help with a utility or telecommunications issue under the Public Utilities Commission’s (Commission) authority, please contact the Commission’s Consumer Affairs Office (CAO) for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org; or 651-296-0406 or 1-800-657-3782.
The CAO is the first stop for Minnesotans to get information or assistance concerning gas and electric utilities and telecommunications companies under the Commission’s jurisdiction. As part its duties, the CAO provides dispute resolution assistance and assistance filing complaints against utilities.
Additionally the CAO administers consumer protection measures related to the Cold Weather Rule. The Office also administers telephone service discount programs like Telephone Assistance Plan (TAP), and works with consumers as the liaison to the federal Lifeline program and Link-Up Minnesota programs.
Open Comment Periods
Open comment periods in proceedings before the Commission will remain open. Members of the public are encouraged to continue submitting comments though the methods outlined on the Commission’s Comment page at https://mn.gov/puc/consumers/speak-up/public-comments.jsp
The Commission issued a press release on Monday, March 16 suspending all public meetings until March 27, 2020. This suspension applies to all upcoming Agenda Meetings, Planning Meetings, Public Hearings, and Public Meetings scheduled in Saint Paul and across Minnesota.
The Commission will assess when best to reschedule the suspended meetings and hearings in the meantime, taking account the fluid conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission will provide an update at a later date.
Executive Order 20-20
On March 25, 2020, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-20 (EO 20-20) instructing Minnesotans to stay at home or in their place of residence except to engage in certain activities and critical sector work. The Governor’s EO 20-20 is in effect from Friday, March 27 until April 10, 2020. In EO 20-20, there is guidance as to which employees are deemed critical. Please review EO 20-20 and the included CISA direction.
The Commission remains open for business but has transitioned to telework The Commission continues to adhere to guidance from MDH, and the CDC during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commission will continue to process dockets and ensure safe, adequate and efficient utility services at fair and reasonable rates. As the Commission continues to adapt to the changing conditions related to the COVID-19 virus, we will keep Minnesotans updated of what we are doing and how they can continue to participate in our processes.
Executive Order 20-02
On March 15, 2020 Governor Tim Walz issued Executive Oder 20-02 (Order). In this Order, the Governor authorized the temporary closure of Minnesota K-12 public schools to students. Schools will be closed to students by Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, March 27, 2020.
As part of this Order, Governor Walz also directed schools to provide care to, at a minimum, district-enrolled students aged 12 and under who are children of emergency workers. The Governor also encouraged schools and school districts to provide extended care—before and after school hours—to students who are children of emergency workers.
The Minnesota Department of Education provided schools with additional guidance for implementing the Care for Children and Families of Emergency Workers provision. This guidance categorizes some gas, electric, water, and telecommunications as Essential Tier 2 Workers. Schools are not required to provide childcare for Essential Tier 2 Workers, but schools are directed to make every effort to provide childcare for these workers as well because the services provided by electric and gas utility workers are vital to ensuring that Minnesotans have gas and electric service.
Executive Order 20-01
Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-01 declaring a peacetime emergency to protect Minnesotans from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In response to this declaration, a joint letter was sent March 25, 2020 to all electric and gas utilities operating in the state from Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley and Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Chair Katie Sieben. Responses to the letter may be found in Commission Docket No. 20-375.
In their letter to utilities, the Department of Commerce and Public Utilities Commission set out a list of minimum voluntary actions requested for the duration of the national security or peacetime emergency.
Extend protections of Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule* by restricting disconnection of residential customers for non-payment of utility bills and reconnecting customers who have been disconnected for the duration of the national security or state peacetime emergency. This request shall not affect the utility’s ability to disconnect a customer’s service for public safety concerns unrelated to non-payment of services.
Waive late fees that any residential or small business customer incurs because of the economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Arrange payment plans for customers requesting help during this time that is based on the financial resources and circumstances of the customer.
* Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule, Minnesota Statutes sections 216B.096 (public utilities), 216B.097 (electric cooperatives and municipal utilities) and 216B.16, subdivisions 12 and 12a (small gas utility and small electric utility).
To stay up-to-date about COVID-19, please visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 webpage .
Executive Orders by the Governor can be found at https://mn.gov/governor/news/executiveorders.jsp .