Reducing Energy Burden

Innovative Idea: Energy Assistance, Weatherization... with Solar On Top!?!

October 2021

Reducing Energy Burdens

The Energy Assistance and Weatherization Assistance Programs are key tools for reducing energy burden for Minnesota households.

Energy Assistance now has expanded resources available, and once a household is eligible for energy assistance dollars, they can also qualify for weatherization retrofits.

Now, with an exciting new pilot program, some weatherized homes are even being fitted with solar. Neat, huh?

But first...Energy Assistance

The Energy Assistance Program (EAP) helps pay for home energy and water costs, and furnace repairs for income-qualified households. Energy grants of up to $3,200 are available for current and past-due energy bills, including water and sewer bills.

Wondering if you qualify? Grants are available to renters and homeowners, and may be given to households with income at or below 60% of the state median income. See the 2022 income guidelines.

The Energy Assistance Program is funded by the U.S. Health and Human Services department and administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. 

Next...Weatherization Assistance

The Weatherization Assistance Program provides free home energy upgrades to income-eligible homeowners and renters. Households receiving weatherization services will be visited by an energy auditor, who will look for opportunities to make the home healthier, safer, and more energy efficient through measures like sealing air leaks, adding insulation, and making sure the furnace is working properly.

The Weatherization Assistance Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Health and Human Services department, and is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

And now...that solar pilot project!

On September 27, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan and Department of Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold visited the Cardona household in Rosemount to call attention to EAP, WAP and the Cold Weather Rule. 

Solar into WAP

The Cardona home was served not only by standard weatherization measures, but is also a pilot house for the Dakota County Community Development Agency’s Solar into WAP project.

The size of the solar PV system installed on house featured in the newsclip is 3.9kW; this size system is forecast to offset over $700 a year in electrical bills, saving the household roughly 45% of their energy costs, showing how solar can be a key piece of the energy burden puzzle!

The solar installation program is soon to be expanded beyond the Twin Cities area, as an optional component of weatherization statewide in Minnesota. As the program expands, the average size of system installation is expected to be slightly larger, meaning even larger savings are possible for the individual WAP clients!

Watch the news clip to learn more about Minnesota's weatherization program and the solar pilot project!

Wait...what was that about the Cold Weather Rule?

Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule (CWR), which is administered by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, protects residential utility customers from having electric or natural gas service shut off between October 1 and April 30. In 2021, the Minnesota Legislature extended the effective dates of the Cold Weather Rule by 15 days in the fall and 15 days in the spring. The Minnesota Department of Commerce advocated for this change after engaging in annual Tribal consultation and learning from Tribal leaders about concerns that Minnesota’s changing climate was leading to cold spells earlier in fall and later in spring. 

Both homeowners and renters are eligible for CWR protection – the utility account must be in your name. You and your utility must agree to a payment plan that is reasonable for your household.

For more information or assistance, see the PUC “Shutoff Protection” info online or call the PUC’s Consumer Affairs Office: 651-296-0406. 

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