Relief Available to Pay Energy Bills
Are you struggling with high utility costs, or are you past due on utility payments? If you are a Minnesota resident, you might be eligible for the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP), which I’ll describe in more detail below. If you don’t live in Minnesota, here’s a link to find your state’s energy assistance program.
Financial Aid Through Minnesota’s EAP
- Eligible Minnesotans can receive up to $1,600 for current electric, gas and propane energy bills and possibly an additional $1,200 to cover past-due bills.
- Grants range from $300 to $1,600, based on the household size, income and fuel cost. The average grant is about $550.
- Payments on energy bills are sent directly to the household’s utility company.
Additional Services Through EAP
- Emergency fuel deliveries.
- Education on efficient and safe use of energy.
- Repair or replacement of broken furnaces.
- Improvements to homes to make them more energy-efficient and safe and reduce consumers’ energy bills.
Who is Eligible?
- Both renters and homeowners in Minnesota.
- Households with income at or below 60% of the state's median income. Read more about the program’s income guidelines.
- The Minnesota Department of Commerce raised the qualifying income levels for households, which increased the number of Minnesota households eligible for EAP.
In Danger of Having Your Utilities Disconnected?
Because of previous state emergency COVID-19 protections, regulated utility companies in Minnesota could not disconnect consumers who had past-due bills. However, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has now lifted these protections and utility companies have started notifying customers with past-due bills that their service could be discontinued as soon as the beginning of August.
If you have overdue utility bills, here are two ways you can continue to protect yourself:
- Apply for EAP as soon as possible. You are protected from utility disconnections through April 2022 if you have a pending or approved EAP application.
- Contact your utility company and set up a repayment plan. Regulated utility companies will not charge late fees or penalties if you have started and are complying with a repayment plan. For answers to repayment plan questions or consumer mediation services, call the PUC Consumer Affairs Office at 651.296.0406 or 800.657.3782, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Apply
- The program is open for applications year-round.
- Apply through your local EAP service provider. Call 800.657.3710 and enter your zip code at the prompt to be connected to your local provider, or search this list of providers by county or tribe.
- Fill out an application online in English or in Spanish.
- Request an application through the Department of Commerce website.
- Watch this video with instructions on how to fill out an application.
If you are struggling with other areas of your finances, LSS Financial Counseling can provide support. Our trusted, nonjudgmental counselors can work with you on other bills, creating realistic budgets and navigating repayment plans on student loans and other debt. Call 888.577.2227 for a free, confidential appointment or get all your support online.
Dan Park is a Certified Financial Counselor for LSS Financial Counseling and specializes in working with homeowners and future homebuyers.