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Energy Awareness Month: Energy Assistance & Utility Programs

Published October 1, 2023

October is Energy Awareness Month, and CUB is here to provide all the information you need to keep your bills low, reduce your energy usage, and keep your household comfortable this fall and coming winter.

Energy Assistance

We’re starting off the month by getting the word out about Energy Assistance in Minnesota. It’s hard to focus on strategies to reduce both your monthly bill and your energy usage when you can’t keep up with your bills in the first place. Energy Assistance is a federally funded, state-administered program that provides funds to help pay for heating and electricity costs for income-qualified households. Applications open October 1.  Applications are processed on a first come first served basis.

Take a look at the Department of Commerce’s website for more information on Energy Assistance and review the income guidelines below to see if your household qualifies.

Household Size1 Month MaxAnnual Income
Income Guidelines for Energy Assistance in Minnesota, 2023

Utility Assistance Programs

Once you’ve submitted your application and qualified for Energy Assistance, you may become eligible for a variety of supplemental assistance programs administered by your utility.  For example, Xcel Energy offers both their PowerOn program and their Gas Affordability Program (GAP), which provides a discount on your electric and gas bills, respectively.

See below for a list of utility programs to enroll in if you qualify for energy assistance.

Xcel Energy – PowerOn, Gas Affordability Program, and Senior Discount
CenterPoint – Gas Affordability Program
Minnesota Power – CARE Program
Minnesota Energy Resources (MERC) – Gas Affordability Program
Otter Tail Power – Uplift Program
Great Plains – Gas Affordability Program
Greater Minnesota – Gas Affordability Program

Avoiding Disconnection

Many households are headed into the winter months with past due bills and even the threat of disconnection of electric or gas service. Receiving a disconnection notice can be scary. Check out our step-by-step guide to handling a disconnection notice from your utility.

  1. Contact your utility to set up a payment plan.
  2. If you are unable to agree on a payment plan that works for your household budget, contact the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) Consumer Affairs Office for assistance.
  3. See if you’re eligible for Energy Assistance.
  4. If you qualify for Energy Assistance, check what programs your utility offers that you may be eligible for.
  5. Look into additional assistance programs to help offset other household costs.
  6. Look into organizations which can provide assistance to community members during times of need.

Energy Bill Consultations

Finally, CUB offers free energy bill consultations to help you get a better understanding of your monthly bill. We’ll review your bill and provide strategies to both reduce your energy usage and save you money. This month, we have open times available on October 10 and October 26. If neither of those dates work for you, contact our Outreach Director, Carmen Carruthers, at 651-300-4701, ext. 2 or to set up a time that works for you.

Author: James Birr

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