$167M in new funding available for Minnesotans who need help paying utility bills | KSTP.com

$167M in new funding available for Minnesotans who need help paying utility bills

In this June 15, 2018, file photo, 20-dollar bills are counted in North Andover, Mass. Photo: AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File. In this June 15, 2018, file photo, 20-dollar bills are counted in North Andover, Mass.

Kyle Brown
Updated: July 06, 2021 04:26 PM
Created: July 06, 2021 04:22 PM

Minnesotans who need help with their energy bills are being encouraged to sign up for a program offered through the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

After a $167 million infusion from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan, the Commerce Department is accepting applications for the Energy Assistance Program all year.

Approximately 340,000 Minnesota households served by regulated utilities have past-due utility bills and owe a total of about $140 million, according to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. During the pandemic, the state's peacetime emergency prevented utility companies from disconnecting service for customers with past-due bills, but that policy was lifted in May.

Under the Energy Assistance Program, households could receive up to $1,600 for energy bills and may qualify for an extra $1,200 to cover past-due bills. Those payments would be sent directly to the household's utility company, the Commerce Department said.

Both homeowners and renters are eligible for the program.

Applicants can also qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program to help pay for home upgrades to conserve energy.

“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,” Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold said in a statement. “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.”

The Commerce Department has also raised the income threshold as part of expanding the Energy Assistance Program. For example, a four-person household with a combined income of $65,228 would qualify.

Any households that apply for the program and have a pending or approved application are protected from utility disconnections through April 2022, according to the Commerce Department.

Those looking to apply to the Energy Assistance Program can do so online or by calling 800-657-3710.


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