Otter Tail Power to offer affordability discount to qualifying customers

Published July 26, 2022

Otter Tail Power will soon offer an electricity bill discount to income-qualified customers after the company’s proposal was approved by the Public Utilities Commission last week. With this approval, all of Minnesota’s investor owned utilities will now offer affordability programs for customers with low incomes. 

Otter Tail’s program, called Uplift, will provide a discount each month on customers’ bills. The amount of the discount depends on the customer’s usage over the previous year.

Customer usageMonthly discount
Less than 7,500 kWh per year 
(625 kWh per average month)
$15
7,500-12,000 kWh/year 
(625-1,000 kWh per average month)
$25
More than 12,000 kWh/year 
(1,000 kWh per average month)
$40

Any customer who receives Energy Assistance may sign up by applying for the program with Otter Tail. Program applications will be available from local Community Action agencies or directly from Otter Tail. 

To remain on the program, customers must apply for Energy Assistance by May 1 of each year. If a customer is behind on their bills, they must also enter a payment arrangement for the payment of any arrearages. Participating customers will be removed from the program if they miss two consecutive bill payments. Otter Tail expects the program to serve more than 1,800 households. Program funding is limited and participation will be on a first-come, first-served basis.  

The program will be funded via a small surcharge on customer bills: $0.81 per month for a residential customer. Customers who receive LIHEAP are exempt from this surcharge, whether or not they participate in the Uplift program. 

This program is simpler than many affordability programs offered by other utilities. It offers a flat monthly discount on bills and does not tie bills to a percentage of income. It also does not forgive a portion of customers’ arrears, as many other programs do. 

The program will, however, provide a meaningful discount and make utility services more affordable for customers with low incomes. If successful, it should increase customers’ on-time payments, decreasing future arrears amounts and lowering utility costs associated with bill collection activities. CUB thanks Otter Tail for bringing this proposal forward, and we were happy to support its approval.

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Author: Annie Levenson-Falk

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