Program helps families pay heating bills
With the return of cold winter weather, the Minnesota Department of Commerce encourages eligible Minnesotans to get help paying their heating bills through the state's Energy Assistance Program.
"The winter weather may be slow in arriving this year, but we know there will be plenty of cold days ahead that can pose a serious challenge for Minnesotans who struggle to pay their heating bills," said Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman. "Heating your home is a necessity in Minnesota, and energy assistance is essential for vulnerable Minnesotans, especially low income families with young children, people with disabilities, veterans and seniors."
Households that earn less than 50 percent of the state's median annual income — $48,077 for a family of four — are eligible for the Energy Assistance Program.
Energy assistance funds help low-income homeowners and renters pay for heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of eligible households. The funding also helps some homeowners repair or replace malfunctioning heat systems.
In October, the Energy Assistance Program received over $102 million in federal funds, or about 90 percent of the total funds expected for the program this year. The program served over 126,000 Minnesota households last year, with an average grant of about $520.
The Minnesota Commerce Department administers the Energy Assistance Program in partnership with 30 local service providers throughout the state. The program is part of the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
How to apply
Applicants have until May 31, 2018, to apply. However, energy assistance funding is limited and administered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Households apply through the local service provider in their area. To find your local service provider, call the Commerce Department toll-free at 800-657-3710 or visit the Energy Assistance Program section at the department's website (mn.gov/commerce).