Wednesday, November 30th, 2022 Church Directory

Help for Minnesotans struggling to pay energy bills

(Editor’s Note: The following article was submitted to the Patriot by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission).

Minnesota homeowners and renters struggling to pay energy bills are encouraged to act now to ensure your home is warm and safe this winter. The Energy Assistance Program administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Cold Weather Rule administered by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) give homeowners and renters options to pay your utility bills, to reduce your energy costs and to protect you from having your heat and power disconnected.

“The Cold Weather Rule puts Minnesotans’ health and safety first by ensuring your heat stays on during our cold weather months,” said PUC Chair Katie Sieben. “We encourage you to contact your utility company now to avoid shutoffs.”

Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold said, “With one application, Minnesotans can qualify for energy assistance and weatherization assistance to make energy bills more affordable and to permanently lower your energy bills. You can also apply for assistance to pay past-due water and sewer bills.”

Cold Weather Rule

Get info online: PUC Shutoff Protection (mn.gov/puc/consumers/shut-off-protection/);

Contact the PUC Consumer Affairs Office: 800-657-3782 or consumer.puc@state.mn.us.

When does the Cold Weather Rule take effect? The Cold Weather Rule (CWR) started October 1 and extends through April 30. The dates were extended under a state law passed in 2021. 

How do you sign up? Contact your natural gas or electric utility company and request a Cold Weather Rule payment plan. You can establish a payment plan at any time during the CWR season. Once you set up a payment plan and keep it, you are protected from having your heat disconnected. If you are unable to agree with your utility company on a payment amount, you have the right to appeal. Contact the PUC Consumer Affairs Office: 800-657-3782.

Can your heat be shut off during winter? YES. You must make and keep the CWR payment plan you set up with your natural gas or electric utility company to receive CWR protection between October 1 and April 30. This is true for all residential customers, including senior citizens and families with young children.

Energy Assistance Program

How do you apply? Request an application or find your local service provider with one of these options: 

Go online: mn.gov/home;

Call 800-657-3710 and press 1 ;

Who qualifies? Homeowners and renters can qualify for energy assistance.

Check online to see if your income qualifies. For example, a family of four could earn up to $58,793 annually and qualify.  

The application considers your most recent 3 months of income and does not include federal stimulus or unemployment payments.

How does the program work? Payments on energy and water bills are sent directly to the household’s utility company. Benefits average $500 per household.

Additional benefits that you may qualify for:

• Getting help to prevent disconnection;

• Getting reconnected to your heat and power if you have been disconnected;

• Receiving emergency fuel delivery if you heat your house with propane or heating oil;

• For homeowners, if your furnace or heating system is broken, you could get help with repair or replacement.

With one application, homeowners and renters can also qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program to receive free home improvements to help save you energy and ensure your home is a warm, healthy and safe place to live. You may also qualify through the same application for assistance to pay past-due water and sewer bills.

About

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission regulates three cornerstone service industries in Minnesota’s economy: electricity, natural gas and telephone. The Commission’s mission is to create and maintain a regulatory environment that ensures safe, adequate and efficient utility services at fair, reasonable rates consistent with State telecommunications and energy policies. It does so by providing independent, consistent, professional and comprehensive oversight and regulation of utility service providers. Learn more at mn.gov/puc.