Energy Assistance Program increases payments to help renters, homeowners with heating emergencies

Published 8:00 pm Friday, December 16, 2022

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The Minnesota Energy Assistance Program has raised the maximum amount eligible Minnesota households can receive to pay for emergency fuel deliveries this winter by 150%. The Energy Assistance Program, administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, increased the maximum crisis benefit from $600 to $1,500, allowing eligible homeowners and renters to avoid the anxiety of a nearly empty fuel tank.

Funding for the benefit increase is part of a $1 billion federal resolution passed in September. The total budget for the program in Minnesota is nearly $129 million this heating season.

“We understand that many Minnesotans are concerned about the cost of heating their homes,” said Michael Schmitz, director of the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program. “Commerce’s goal is to help Minnesotans stay safe and warm in their homes by reducing their energy burden — especially for families struggling to pay their energy bills. More than doubling the maximum crisis benefit is another way to meet that goal.”

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In the past few years, the annual cost of heating an average Minnesota home with heating oil has risen to nearly $3,000 and to $1,900 for propane-heated homes. Since the current Energy Assistance Program year began Oct. 1, nearly 36,000 households have received an average of $561 in Energy Assistance Program benefits. Minnesotans who are eligible to receive assistance are also eligible to request additional crisis benefits to avoid running out of fuel or to prevent utility disconnections. In the program year that ended Sept. 30, more than 58,000 households received crisis benefits.

Schmitz said, “The increase in crisis benefits is especially important for households that heat their homes with delivered fuels or that are paying too large a share of their incomes to stay warm this winter.”

Before the pandemic, the maximum crisis benefit was $600 per household. In March 2022, Commerce temporarily increased that amount to $3,000 after receiving an additional $167 million in onetime funds under the American Rescue Plan Act. With ARP funds exhausted, Minnesota’s available funding allows the Energy Assistance Program to provide a maximum of $1,500 per household this program year.

The Energy Assistance Program helps Minnesotans who own or rent their homes to pay for electricity, natural gas, oil, biofuel and propane, and repair or replace homeowners’ broken heating systems. Commerce administers the program through a network of local community service providers.

To request an Energy Assistance Program application or to find your local service provider:
800-657-3710, option 1
Search online for “Minnesota energy assistance”