The Minnesota Department of Commerce recently announced that Minnesotans can access greater financial assistance and newly expanded protections to keep their homes warm and lights on through the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP) and Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule (CWR). This year, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which operates the EAP, has over $130 million in federal funding, to help more Minnesota households. The EAP helps Minnesota households pay for current and past-due bills for electricity, gas, oil, biofuel, propane, emergency fuel delivery, and repair/replacement of homeowners’ broken heating systems, and could also cover water and sewer bills.
Commerce raised the income eligibility limit to 60% of Minnesota’s median income levels ($67,765 per year for a family of four) and is significantly increasing benefit amounts to reduce energy burdens more than ever, including up to $1,600 for energy bills, plus up to $1,200 for past-due energy bills. During the previous program year (October 2020-September 2021), about 116,000 Minnesota households applied and qualified for energy assistance. Visit mn.gov/energyassistance for more information.
Minnesota’s CWR, which is administered by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, protects residential utility customers from having electric or natural gas service shut off between Oct. 1 and April 30. The effective dates of the CWR were extended 15 days in the fall and 15 days in the spring by the Minnesota Legislature in 2021. Commerce advocated for this change after engaging in annual tribal consultation and learning from tribal leaders about concerns that Minnesota’s changing climate was leading to cold spells earlier in fall and later in spring. To request a CWR payment plant contact the natural gas or electric company.