The Potluck

600,000 households eligible for expanded energy assistance program

By: - September 27, 2021 3:35 pm

More than 600,000 Minnesota households are eligible to receive state money to help cover utility bills this year under an expansion of Minnesota’s energy assistance program, the state Department of Commerce announced Monday.

Homeowners and renters making up to 60% of the statewide median household income qualify for help paying for current and past-due gas, electricity, oil, propane, biofuel, water and sewage bills. The annual income limit is $67,765 for a four-person household.

Last year, the income limit was 50% of the statewide median income, or about $54,300 for a family of four. About 116,000 eligible households applied for the program last year, according to the Department of Commerce.

The state is also increasing payment amounts to up to $1,600 for current bills and $1,200 for past-due bills.

People who apply for energy assistance may also qualify for the state’s weatherization program, which provides free home assessments of potential energy efficiency improvements like insulation and furnace repairs.

Minnesota is also extending the timeline for the “cold weather rule” — which gives customers protection against electricity and natural gas shut-offs during the winter — by 30 days. Now, the rule applies from Oct. 1 to April 30.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn is a Minnesota native and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.