Cold Weather Rule protection ends April 15
The Cold Weather Rule that protects Minnesotans from natural gas or electricity shut-off will end on April 15. But that date does not always mean the end of the heating season in Minnesota.
To keep the heat on through the spring, the Minnesota Commerce Department urges low-income residents who need help paying their utility bills to apply for the state’s Energy Assistance Program and establish a payment plan with their utility, if they haven’t done so already.
Minnesotans who use delivered fuels such as fuel oil, propane or wood to heat their homes are also eligible for energy assistance, even though they are not covered by the Cold Weather Rule.
Energy assistance funds are limited and households are served on a first-come, first-served basis. Details are available on the Commerce Department’s Energy Assistance webpage (https://mn.gov/commerce/consumers/consumer-assistance/energy-assistance/).
Act now to avoid disconnection
Minnesotans who have trouble paying their heating bills are encouraged to contact their utility now to establish and maintain a monthly payment plan.
Most payment plans under the Cold Weather Rule last until April 15. To avoid disconnection after that date, customers who still owe a balance on their bill should contact their utility before April 15 and ask if they can continue their payment plan or establish a new plan.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission administers the Cold Weather Rule. For more information, visit the Commission website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-296-0406 or 800-657-3782.
How to apply for energy assistance
The Minnesota Commerce Department administers the Energy Assistance Program in partnership with 30 local service providers in the state. The program helps with energy bills for renters and homeowners earning at or below 50 percent of the state’s median income ($48,077 for a family of four).
Energy assistance funds go directly to the utility or energy provider on behalf of eligible households. The average annual grant per household is about $520. Last year the program helped more than 126,000 Minnesota households. It is funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
To apply for energy assistance, contact the local service provider in your county. To find your service provider, visit the Commerce Department’s Energy Assistance webpage or call 800-657-3710.