Minnesota Energy Assistance Program expands to offer more benefits

Friday, the Minnesota Cold Weather Rule goes into effect, preventing a utility company from disconnecting your natural gas or electricity as long as you have payment plan.

The rule was extended by two weeks in both the fall and spring to account for our changing climate. There is also a lot more federal money this year to help people pay their heating bills.

Like many families, Julia Cordona struggled to pay her utility bills during the pandemic, so she applied to the energy assistance program.

"I gave them a call and they helped me through the application. I submitted it. They came back to me and said I did qualify and they helped me," Cordona said.

Not only did Cordona get help in paying her energy bills, she also qualified for weatherization including insulation to her crawl space, utility room, weather stripping around her doors, and a new programmable thermostat, too.

State leaders want homeowners and renters to know they can apply for the same assistance.

"More Minnesotans now than ever before might qualify for assistance and past due energy bills," Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan said.    

In fact, due to expanded federal money, more than 600,000 Minnesota families are income eligible for energy assistance. That’s one in every four Minnesota households.

"Through one application, which is through the Energy Assistance Program, homeowners and renters may also qualify for the weatherization assistance program, as Julia and her family discovered," Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold said.

That same application also qualified Cordona to add solar energy to her house.

"They came over and inspected the house," Cordona said. "They told me that this side of the house was OK to put solar panels."

solar panels

Julia Cordona struggled to pay her utility bills during the pandemic and applied to Minnesota's energy assistance program. She qualified to add solar energy to her house and more. (FOX 9)

It’s estimated the new solar panels will reduce her electric bill by 75% for about $700 per year in savings.

"Just try to do it. Motivate people to do it. It’s out there. And if you qualify, you can be benefiting from the program," Cordona said.

Minnesotans can apply for the energy assistance program at mn.gov/energyassistance.