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State gets more funds for LIHEAP program

The Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) announced Minnesota has received $11.6 million in federal emergency contingency funds for its Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP).

The funds are in addition to the regular allocation of $143.3 million for the current heating season, the second installment of which the DOC announced earlier this week.

The emergency contingency funds will enable the Department of Commerce to assist more low-income households at a time when unemployment, cold weather and fuel prices have made it difficult for many families to afford the cost of heat and electricity.

The Energy Assistance Program helps low-income customers pay their heating bills through grant money paid directly to the utility company on behalf of the customer. EAP applications have increased 10 percent this year compared to the same time last year.

A list of local service providers and more information about the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program can be found on the Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy website at by clicking on "Low Income Assistance."

In 1994, Congress provided permanent authorization of an emergency contingency fund of up to $600 million in addition to regular LIHEAP funding. The 1998 reauthorization of LIHEAP added a new section that specified additional conditions under which emergency funds could be released. Those conditions include significant increases in the cost of home energy and unemployment or layoffs.