Minnesotans can access greater financial assistance and newly expanded protections to keep their homes warm and lights on through Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program and Cold Weather Rule.

There is over $130 million in federal funding through the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which operates the Energy Assistance Program, to help more households. According to a Commerce department news release, the program helps 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% of Minnesota’s median income levels ($67,765 per year for a family of four) and is increasing benefit amounts to reduce energy burdens, including up to $1,600 for energy bills, plus up to $1,200 for past-due energy bills.

Household SizeThree Month MaximumAnnual Income

Over 600,000 Minnesota households are income-eligible for Energy Assistance. During the previous program year about 116,000 Minnesota households applied and qualified for Energy Assistance. You can request an application or find your local service provider at mn.gov/energyassistance or call 800-657-3710 and press 1.

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The Cold Weather Rule started on Oct. 1 and is lasting later this year, until April 30, 2022. The rule, administered by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, protects residential utility customers from having electric or natural gas service shut off between those dates. Commerce advocated for extended dates 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, according to the release. The utility account must be in your name. You and your utility must agree to a payment plan that is reasonable for your household to avoid the heat being shut off. Payment plans can be established at any time during the CWR season.

For more information or assistance, see the PUC “Shutoff Protection” info on the Minnesota Public Utilities website or call the PUC’s Consumer Affairs Office at 651-296-0406.

Water bill assistance and weatherization is also available. 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. Weatherization helps households with home improvements to conserve energy and lower their energy costs permanently, according to the release. Water bill assistance was created through one-time federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

For more information, visit mn.gov/energyassistance.