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State to get $56.3 million more for energy assistance

January 12, 2011

State to get $56.3 million more for energy assistance

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Minnesota to Get an Additional $56.3 Million for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

(ST. PAUL, MN)  The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security (OES) today announced Minnesota will receive an additional $56.3 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP). When added to the $86.4 million in federal funds already received by the state, this allocation will bring the total for the current heating season to approximately $142.7 million.

OES reports it has already received more than 146,000 applications from households requesting assistance. OES allocates these funds to 36 local service providers who work with households to distribute the funds.

"This release of additional funds will help more low-income Minnesotans," said Mike Rothman, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. "Many families struggle economically with heating costs in the winter and the LIHEAP funds provide valuable assistance at a critical time."

EAP applications have increased 6 percent this year compared to the same time last year, and have increased 16 percent compared to the same time two years ago. The program helps low-income customers pay their heating bills through grant money paid directly to the utility company on behalf of the customer.

Last year, Minnesota served 164,783 households with $160 million in federal funds. This year, the average grant per household is about $500. Customers with 50 percent or less of the state median income ($43,500 for a family of four) may qualify. Households with seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children are especially encouraged to apply.

Qualifying families must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area. Funding is limited and is administered on a first-come-first-serve basis.

A list of local service providers and more information about the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program can be found at www.staywarm.mn.gov by clicking on "Low Income Assistance" or by calling 651-539-1882 or toll free in Minnesota 1-800-657-3710.