With winter’s coldest temperatures arriving, the Minnesota Department of Commerce reminds Minnesotans to apply to the state’s Energy Assistance Program for help paying their heating bills.

For those who have not already applied for help this heating season, there is still time. Households with young children, people with disabilities, veterans, seniors and those experiencing unemployment or financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are especially encouraged to apply. Both renters and homeowners can qualify to get energy assistance.

“We are concerned more Minnesotans than ever are having difficulty paying heating bills because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Commerce Department Temporary Commissioner Grace Arnold. “Last year, we granted an average of $500 to eligible households to help with heating bills.”

Stimulus payments from the Federal Government and pandemic-related unemployment insurance payments are not counted as income when determining if a household is eligible for energy assistance.

The Energy Assistance Program serves households that earn less than $54,357 for a household of four or $28,266 for a household of one. It helps income-qualifying homeowners and renters with heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies or heating fuel vendors. The program can also help households pay past due bills, get reconnected or prevent energy disconnection, get delivered fuel, learn about energy efficiency and safety, and repair or replace homeowners’ broken heating systems.

In November 2020, Minnesota received more than $106 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for this year’s Energy Assistance Program.

Last year the Energy Assistance Program served nearly 118,000 Minnesota households, with an average grant of about $500. These households included nearly 57,000 seniors, almost 35,000 young children, more than 57,000 people with disabilities and roughly 7,500 veterans

New applicants have until May 31, 2021 to apply, however funding is limited and administered on a first-come, first-served basis. The Minnesota Commerce Department administers the program in partnership with 29 local service providers throughout the state. Local service providers are situated across Minnesota and cover every corner of the state.

Households apply for assistance with the local service provider in their area. Call  800-657-3710, and press 1, or visit the Commerce Department’s Energy Assistance Program webpage.

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