Cold Weather Rule protection ends April 15; Applications due May 31
For Immediate Release:
SAINT PAUL, MN – The Cold Weather Rule that protects Minnesotans from natural gas or electricity shut-off will end on April 15, but that date, and the warmer weather, does not necessarily mean Minnesota households are done struggling to pay their energy bills. Households across the state are still paying the price for high winter heating bills.
Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley urges low-income residents who need help paying their energy bills to apply for the state’s Energy Assistance Program (EAP) and establish a payment plan with their utility, if they haven’t done so already. Minnesotans using delivered fuels such as fuel oil, propane or wood to heat their homes are also eligible for EAP grants even though they are not covered by the Cold Weather Rule.
EAP funds are limited and households are served on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program on the Commerce website for information.
“I encourage seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, families with children or anyone struggling to pay their energy bills to apply for Energy Assistance. We want to make sure that everyone stays warm and safe while we make it through the spring,” said Kelley. “Funds are still available, so those in need should apply now to make sure they can get the help they need.”
Act now to avoid disconnection
Kelley encourages Minnesotans who struggle with heating costs to contact their utility now to establish and maintain a monthly payment plan. Most payment plans under the Cold Weather Rule last from October 15 until April 15. To avoid disconnection after April 15, customers who still owe a balance on their bill should contact their utility before the Cold Weather Rule ends and ask if they can continue their payment plan or establish a new payment plan.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) administers the Cold Weather Rule. For more information on the rule, visit the PUC website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 651-296-0406 or 800-657-3782.
How to apply for Energy Assistance Program
The Commerce Department administers EAP in partnership with 29 local service providers in the state. The program helps renters and homeowners earning at or below 50 percent of the state’s median income ($49,698 for a family of four) obtain grant money to help pay their heating bills. Energy assistance funds go directly to the energy provider on behalf of eligible households. The average annual grant per household is about $545.
Last year, the program helped more than 126,000 Minnesota households. EAP is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
To apply for EAP, contact the local service provider in your county. To determine your service provider, visit the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program on the Commerce website or call 1-800-657-3710. Applications must be received or postmarked by May 31, 2019 for EAP benefits for the 2018-2019 program year benefits.