From Minnesota Department of Commerce

As cold weather sweeps into the state, the Minnesota Commerce Department is encouraging low-income Minnesotans to get help with paying their heating bills through the state’s Energy Assistance Program.

“The cold weather may have been slow in arriving this winter, but we know there will be plenty of cold days ahead that can pose a serious challenge for Minnesotans who struggle to pay their heating bills,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Heating your home is a necessity in Minnesota, and we don’t want anyone’s health or safety put at risk because they can’t afford to pay for heat. Energy assistance is an essential safety net for vulnerable Minnesotans.”

Households that earn less than 50 percent of the state’s median annual income ($47,194 for a family of four) are eligible for the Energy Assistance Program.

Rothman noted that only about one-third of Minnesotans who are eligible for assistance actually apply. He especially encourages applications from low-income households with small children, people with disabilities, veterans and seniors.

Energy assistance funds help low-income homeowners and renters pay for heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of eligible households. The funding also helps some homeowners repair or replace malfunctioning heat systems.

The Minnesota Commerce Department administers the Energy Assistance Program in partnership with 30 local service providers throughout the state. The program is part of the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Energy assistance funding is limited and administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Qualifying households must apply through the local service provider in their area. To find your local service provider, call the Commerce Department toll-free at 800-657-3710 or visit the Energy Assistance Program section of the department’s website.