Published April 21, 2021
Last Thursday, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted a transition plan to allow the state’s regulated utilities to resume service disconnections of residential customers. These utilities had been prohibited from disconnecting residential customers for nonpayment since the spring of 2020. The PUC approved a plan that will allow shutoffs to resume while including strong customer protections and a long notice period to help households keep their lights and natural gas on.
The transition plan was brought forward by CUB, the Energy CENTS Coalition, the Legal Service Advocacy Project, and the Minnesota Community Action Partnership. Our team negotiated the terms with most of the state’s regulated utilities.
The following applies to CenterPoint Energy, Dakota Electric Association, Great Plains Natural Gas, Greater Minnesota Gas, Minnesota Energy Resources, Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power, and Xcel Energy.
These utilities will be permitted to resume disconnections for nonpayment on August 2, 2021. Customers who are far enough behind on their bills to trigger a disconnection should receive a notice from their utility in May detailing the plan, and official disconnection notices will start being sent on June 1.
Customers who have pending or approved applications for Energy Assistance will not be disconnected through April 30, 2022. If you think you qualify for Energy Assistance, we recommend applying as soon as you can through your local provider. For 2021 only, you may apply for Energy Assistance until September 1, and any household who earned less than 60% of the state median income during the most recent 3 months qualifies. For a family of three, this is an annual income of $54,791, or $13,697 over the past three months. The threshold was increased from 50 percent of state median income in April 2021, so if you earned slightly above the income threshold previously, you may now qualify. Assistance is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
You will not be disconnected or charged fees if you make and stay up to date on a payment arrangement with your utility through April 30, 2022. Customers who are on payment arrangements will not be subject to service deposits, down payments, interest, late payment charges, or business hour reconnection fees if they have been shut off.
You can find more information about shutoff protections and bill payment assistance here.
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