State receives $13 million in additional federal energy assistance funds to help low-income Minnesotans

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced that Minnesota has received an additional $13 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the state’s Energy Assistance Program.

This second and final installment of funding means that Minnesotans who qualified for energy assistance after money ran out in mid-April and who applied before the May 31 program deadline will now receive assistance to pay their heating bills from the past winter.

Minnesota received $101 million, or the bulk of its federal energy assistance funding, last October. The new federal installment brings the 2016-2017 heating season total to $114 million.

“The heating season is over, but many Minnesotans who were counting on help to pay their heating bills will get the help they need,” said Rothman, whose agency includes the state energy office. “Many Minnesotans struggle to make ends meet year-round, so this energy assistance helps provide important relief.”

To date this year, the state’s Energy Assistance Program served over 126,000 Minnesota households, with the average grant per household at just over $520.

The program helps homeowners and renters who earn less than 50 percent of the state’s median income ($47,194 for a family of four) pay heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of customers.

Minnesotans who have difficulty paying their heating bills are encouraged to apply for energy assistance. Households that include children under the age of six, people with disabilities, veterans and seniors are especially encouraged to apply.

The Minnesota Commerce Department administers the Energy Assistance Program in partnership with 30 local service providers throughout the state. The program is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The 2016-2017 application deadline was May 31, so applications received after that date are not eligible to receive benefits for the past program year. However, these applicants may be eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program or other assistance through county social service programs, community-based organizations and nonprofit agencies.

Minnesotans who inquire about the program after May 31 will also be put on a mailing list to automatically receive an application for the next heating season.

Energy assistance applications for 2017-18 will be accepted beginning on October 1. Funding is administered on a first-come, first-served basis, so Minnesotans are urged to apply as soon as possible after October 1.

Qualifying households must apply for energy assistance through the local service provider in their area. To identify and contact your local service provider; call 800-657-3710 or visit the Energy Assistance Program section of the Minnesota Commerce Department website.

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