By John Michaelson
Minnesota News Connection
Minnesota’s cold weather rule took effect Saturday, Oct. 15. The rule prohibits utilities from cutting off customers through the winter. Karen Moe with Minnesota Community Action Partnership says they are working hard to get the word out.
“Many of the people who are eligible for these services don’t always access them. We want to make sure everyone — including the most vulnerable people in our society, such as the elderly — reaches out and uses the services that are available to them.”
Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Michael Rothman says while the cold weather rule protects utility customers from disconnection, consumers must contact their utility and commit to a monthly payment.
“If you have trouble paying your bills, you can call and work with the Public Utilities Commission and then with the utilities to work out a payment plan, basically to get you through the cold months that are coming up.”
For those who need help, there’s also a federal heating-assistance program, but Rothman says how much funding is available for it is up in the air, as Congress continues to look at ways to cut the deficit.
“We are hopeful that the funding levels will be good and strong, but again it goes into the whole question about how much the federal government can afford for these programs. I will advocate as strongly as I can to get as much money as we can so that we don’t leave seniors, the disabled and low-income people out in the cold.”
The average grant per household is generally between $400 and $500.
Details about the program are available at www.mncaa.org.