The Minnesota Department of Commerce has received an additional $167 million in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act to fund Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program.
As a result, the program is open for applications all year. The Department is encouraging thousands of Minnesota households to apply, especially those with past-due energy bills who are at risk of utility disconnections.
Households could receive up to $1,600 for energy bills and may qualify for an additional $1,200 to cover past-due bills.
Almost 340,000 Minnesota households served by regulated utilities have past-due utility bills for electric and gas energy, owing about $140 million, according to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
In May the PUC lifted pandemic peacetime emergency restrictions that barred regulated utility companies from disconnecting customers with past-due bills. Utility companies have already begun notifying customers with past-due bills that they could be disconnected starting as soon as Aug. 2.
The Commerce Department is coordinating with utility companies and community organizations on a statewide effort to encourage Minnesotans with outstanding bills or facing disconnections to apply for Minnesota’s Energy Assistance program.
By applying for energy assistance, Minnesota households can qualify for Minnesota’s Weatherization Assistance Program to pay for free home improvements to conserve energy and permanently reduce that home’s energy costs.
“We want the thousands of Minnesotans who have fallen behind on their utility bill payments to know you have options to keep the power on in your home,” said Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold. “Apply for Energy Assistance today so that you can get help on your bills and, if you’re eligible, to have your energy bills permanently lowered through the Weatherization Assistance Program.”
Minnesotans should apply now for the Energy Assistance Program. Request an application or find your local service provider: Call 800-657-3710 and press 1 or go online: mn.gov/commerce/eap.jsp or search online for “Minnesota energy assistance”
Key facts about Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program:
Homeowners and renters can qualify for energy assistance.
More Minnesota households than ever before qualify for energy assistance because the Commerce Department has raised the income level for households to qualify. For example, a household with four people can have annual income of up to $65,228 to qualify.
Minnesota households that apply for the Energy Assistance Program and have a pending or approved application are protected from utility disconnections through April 2022.
Services include payments for current and past-due bills for electric, gas and propane energy, emergency fuel delivery, repair/replacement of homeowners’ broken heating systems.
The application for the Energy Assistance Program is the same one to determine if a household will qualify for services in the Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides free home energy upgrades to income-eligible homeowners and renters to help save energy and make sure your home is a healthy and safe place to live.
Payments on energy bills are sent directly to the household’s utility company, and could be up to $1,600, with an additional $1,200 the household could qualify for to cover past-due utility bills.
Households also receive education on efficient and safe use of energy.
Consumers with past-due utility bills: Contact your utility company to request to set up a plan for repayment. Regulated utility companies will not charge late fees or penalties for consumers who have entered into and are complying with a plan for repayment.
For additional help, the PUC Consumer Affairs Office is available to answer questions and to provide consumer mediation services: Call 651-296-0406 or 1-800-657-3782 or email email@example.com.
There are eight regulated, investor-owned companies that provide gas or electricity in Minnesota: CenterPoint Energy, Dakota Electric Association, Great Plains Natural Gas Co., Greater Minnesota Gas, Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation, Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power and Xcel Energy.