For Immediate Release
SAINT PAUL, MN – Minnesotans who rely on propane to heat their homes will benefit from new consumer protections signed into law today by Governor Mark Dayton. During last winter’s propane shortage, Minnesota consumers issued numerous complaints to the Minnesota Department of Commerce regarding additional service fees, concerns of price gouging, and other unfair market practices. In response, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature have enacted new consumer protections that will help ensure Minnesotans who rely on propane to heat their homes are treated fairly and are not unfairly or unreasonably denied the opportunity to purchase needed propane supplies.
"These new consumer protections signed into law today by Governor Mark Dayton – while representing a compromise on some provisions – are a step in the right direction,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “We need all hands on deck to help take every step we can to avoid a propane crisis in the future like the one we had this past winter and these measures will play an important role in the state’s ongoing efforts.”
New Consumer Protections for Propane Heating Customers
The new law signed by Governor Dayton today will establish the following consumer protections for Minnesotans who rely on propane to heat their homes.
Monitoring Supply, Enforcement, and Options
The new law also provides the Commerce Department additional tools to more effectively monitor the supply of propane in Minnesota, investigate complaints, and enforce the law.
Energy Assistance is Still Available
Although spring is here, the Commerce Department still has money available to help Minnesotans stay warm as the chilly nights continue. The Energy Assistance Program is accepting applications through May 30 to help low-income customers pay their energy bills. Minnesotans know that cold spring days may continue, requiring many households to keep their heat running. For families on a tight budget, the need for heat is an additional cost many households will not be able to bear.
The average grant per household is about $500. Customers with incomes less than 60 percent of the state median income ($52,370 for a family of four) may qualify. Households with seniors, people with disabilities, and children are especially encouraged to apply. People have until the program year ends May 30 to apply, however households are served on a first-come-first-serve basis while funds last.
Households can only be served once per heating season; therefore, households who have already received energy assistance this program year (October 1, 2013 to May 30, 2014) are not eligible for the primary grant but additional crisis benefits may be available for households facing an emergency.
Energy assistance funds go directly to the utility company on behalf eligible households. Households apply for energy assistance through 32 local service providers. Qualifying families must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area. A list of local service providers and more information about the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program can be found on the Commerce website or by calling 1-800-657-3710.