Published October 1, 2019
Minnesota Power has received approval to overhaul its Customer Affordability Residential Electricity (CARE) Program. The CARE program helps reduce the cost of electricity for Minnesota Power’s low-income customers.
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has given Minnesota Power the go-ahead to implement significant program reforms. Minnesota Power worked diligently with stakeholders for multiple months and brought forward changes with the support of all involved. These changes were championed by the Energy CENTS Coalition and reflect collaborative work with CUB, Fresh Energy, Ecolibrium 3, the PUC’s Consumer Affairs Office, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and others.
Right now, the CARE program provides a straight discount of about 26 percent off the regular Minnesota Power rates. (You can see the details on Minnesota Power’s website). One of the primary concerns with the existing program was that it didn’t do enough to provide meaningful assistance for people struggling with their energy bills, especially those with high energy burdens.
Under the new CARE program, all Low-Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)-eligible customers who are seniors, disabled, and legacy CARE participants will be automatically enrolled for a flat $15-per-month discount.
In addition, a deeper discount is also available. LIHEAP-eligible customers can receive discounts on their monthly bills so that their electricity bill does not exceed 3 percent of household income. Applications for this deep discount will be accepted annually on a first-come, first-served basis.
Minnesota Power will continue to administer the CARE program. If you want to enroll or have any questions, you can contact them at 1-800-228-4966 or by following the instructions on their website.
The modifications will streamline the application process and create a more meaningful reduction to low-income customers’ energy burdens within Minnesota Power’s territory. Look for details about the program changes and schedule for the roll out of the new program in the upcoming months.
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I am a senior citizen living on Social Security.
A simple discount of $15 per month will be a great benefit.
I believe I am already enrolled in the program,
which does not make much difference in my total electric bill
because a major element of my bill is fixed charges.
This new benefit will more than counter-balance
those charges over which I have no control.
A better rate structure would achieve the same result,
but it would also encourage everyone to use less electricity.