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State Energy Assistance Program Funding is Still Available to Help Pay Heating Bills

Seniors, other low-income Minnesotans encouraged to apply

January 06, 2014

For Immediate Release: 

SAINT PAUL, MN—The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources wants low-income Minnesotans—especially seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children—to know that grant funds from the Energy Assistance Program (EAP) are still available to help pay their heating bills and help them stay safe and warm this winter.

“This brutally cold weather streak is an opportunity to remind Minnesotans who are struggling to pay their heating bills that help is still available,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Heating one’s home is a necessity in Minnesota, and we don’t want households to compromise their safety. EAP funds can help households avoid the difficult choice between buying food and medicine and paying their heating bill. We encourage families and individuals who need assistance to apply for EAP.”

Rothman said approved applications for heating assistance are up slightly this year, from 81,865 a year ago at this time to 82,076 so far this year. Minnesota received nearly $99 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for EAP in November, and EAP hopes to receive additional funding before the heating season ends. Last year, Minnesota served 147,636 households with $109 million in federal funds.

The average energy assistance grant is $500 per household. Households with an income less than 50 percent of the state median income ($43,642 for a family of four) may qualify; those who qualify are served on a first-come, first-served basis while funds last. People have until May 31, when the program year ends, to apply for EAP.

“We want to ensure that our most vulnerable residents are not faced with no-heat situations,” Rothman said. “Research suggests that seniors in particular may hesitate to seek assistance, so we are reaching out to seniors and others in need to access the heating assistance program.”

How to apply for energy assistance

EAP pays the utility company directly on behalf of eligible households. Qualifying families must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area; Minnesota has 32 local service providers. A list of local service providers and information on applying for the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program is available by visiting the Energy Assistance section of the Division of Energy Resources website or by calling 1-800-657-3710 or 651-539-1882. EAP is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Other forms of assistance may be available through county social service programs, community-based organizations, and nonprofit agencies. See the Stay Warm Minnesota webpage for a list of resources.