State triples energy crisis benefits

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Funding now available for thousands more Minnesotans to apply

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has raised the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program crisis benefit per household. Income-qualified homeowners or renters can now receive up to $3,000 to pay past-due energy bills, to prevent energy disconnections, and to cover costs for emergency fuel deliveries. 

The crisis benefit had been $1,200. This grant is for nearly an additional $2,000 in non-crisis benefits for qualified households. 

“We increased the crisis benefit to make energy costs more affordable for Minnesotans who have seen their energy bills rise significantly this winter,” said Michael Schmitz, director for the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program. The program is administered by the Department of Commerce through a network of local community service providers. “If you are behind on your energy bill, you may qualify for up to $3,000 in help.

“The crisis benefits will be especially important for households heated by propane or heating oils, who have seen their heating costs increase on average from $1,500 to $2,500 per household,” Schmitz added. “Minnesotans who use propane or heating oils can apply for the Energy Assistance Program to refill their tanks.”

Energy Assistance funding is available for thousands more Minnesotans and is open for applications through May 31, 2022. Minnesota received more than $167 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds in 2021 for the Energy Assistance Program, which more than doubled the annual amount.    

With one application to the Energy Assistance Program, households may also qualify for water bill assistance and for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which can permanently reduce household energy costs.  

Commerce is asking the Minnesota Legislature to fund up to 15,000 more Minnesotans for the Weatherization Assistance Program, to reduce energy costs long-term for those homes and reduce the state’s overall energy infrastructure needs.

Minnesotans who have already qualified for Energy Assistance Program grants this year may be eligible for this additional amount of crisis money and should contact their local service provider about additional crisis benefits.

The Energy Assistance Program helps people who own or rent their homes to pay for current and past-due bills for electricity, gas, oil, biofuel and propane, emergency fuel delivery, and repair/replacement of homeowners’ broken heating systems, and could also cover water and sewer bills.

To apply, go to gov/energyassistance or call 800-657-3710 and press 1.

Source: Minnesota Department of Commerce