By John Michaelson
Minnesota News Connection
As heating bills start to rise in Minnesota, those who are struggling financially are being reminded of several safety nets that can help them stay warm over the winter. Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Michael Rothman says one is the cold-weather rule.
“Customers can contact their utility to set up a monthly payment plan, so that they’re not disconnected. This is to prevent them from having a heat disconnection happen when
winter temperatures are dropping, and it can be dangerous.”
The cold-weather rule began Oct. 15 and runs through April 15.
Another way that people can get help with their heating bills is through the energy assistance program. Karen Moe, energy policy coordinator with the Minnesota Community Action Partnership, says the grants are generally about $400 and are especially important for the poor and those on fixed incomes, such as senior citizens.
“If they qualify for weatherization services, folks will come out to their house and basically do an audit of the home to see how energy efficient it is. Then, whatever measures they deem cost-effective, they will also implement in the home, free of cost.”
There is also a weatherization program available. Moe says those eligible can get help with insulation, windows and other changes that can help homeowners drive down their utility costs.
“This is a program that provides assistance to households to pay their energy bills, their heating bills. Heating costs really are quite a burden on households that are low income or fixed income. We really want to make sure that they have heat on, and they can afford to meet some of their other monthly budget costs, like food.”
Those who would like to apply or get more information on any of the programs can contact their local community action agency or the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Details are available at www.mncaa.org.