Minnesota Department of Commerce has over $130 million for the program

More Minnesotans than ever qualify for the Energy Assistance Program. 

In 2021, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which operates the Energy Assistance Program, has over $130 million in federal funding, with more expected this fall, to help more Minnesota households. The Energy Assistance Program helps Minnesota households pay for current and past-due bills for electricity, gas, oil, biofuel and 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 percent 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.

With these changes, over 600,000 Minnesota households are income-eligible for Energy Assistance, significantly expanding who can receive this essential help. During the previous program year (October 2020-September 2021), about 116,000 Minnesota households applied and qualified for Energy Assistance.

The Cold Weather Rule goes into effect earlier (October 1) and lasts later (April 30). Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule (CWR), which is administered by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, protects residential utility customers from having electric or natural gas service shut off between October 1 and April 30. The effective dates of the Cold Weather Rule 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.

Both homeowners and renters are eligible for CWR protection.

For more information or assistance, call (651) 296-0406.

Water bill assistance is newly available and households can also qualify for weatherization. By submitting one application through the Energy Assistance Program, households could qualify for payments to cover both water and energy bills, and qualify them for the Minnesota Weatherization Program, also operated by Commerce. Weatherization helps households with home improvements to conserve energy and lower their energy costs permanently. Water bill assistance is new, created through one-time federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“Commerce is working to provide Minnesotans with more options so you can afford critical services (heat, water, lights, power) that you need to be safe and comfortable in your home,” said Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold.

  To apply, or to find more about qualification requirments, go to www.mn.gov/energyassistance or call (800) 657-3710 and press 1.

For those that qualify, payments on energy and water bills are sent directly to the household’s utility company. Households also receive education on efficient and safe use of energy.