Utility protections and bill assistance
This page is updated regularly. Last updated on September 1, 2022
Utility bills and disconnection
If you are behind on your bills and are worried about your service being disconnected, CUB recommends:
- Call your utility and ask to arrange a payment plan that works given your personal financial circumstances. If your financial circumstances change and you are no longer able to follow your payment arrangement, contact your utility again and ask to restructure the arrangement based on your new situation.
- Check if you are eligible for Energy Assistance or other funding. (See below on this webpage for more information.)
- If you require electricity service for medically necessary equipment, the utility must keep your service on or reconnect service if it has been shut off. You will need to provide certification from a medical provider. If you have an overdue balance, you can be required to make a payment plan. Contact your utility so they are aware of your medical need, and they will tell you what you must provide.
- Cold Weather Rule. The Cold Weather Rule (CWR) provides special protections for Minnesotans facing disconnection of their heating systems between October 1 and April 30. However, a utility can shut off service unless you take action. Under the CWR, you must call your utility and work out a payment arrangement, then make on-time payments on that plan.
- Medical device protection (all utilities). If you have medical equipment that is needed to keep you or a household member alive, your household qualifies for medical account protection under state law. If you think you qualify, call your utility and request medical account status. They may give you forms to complete and will require a doctor’s note. If you are overdue on your bills, they will also require you to make (and keep) a payment agreement to pay back your arrears. If you and your utility disagree about whether a medical device qualifies you for this protection, or if you cannot come to an agreement on a reasonable payment plan, consult the Public Utilities Commission Consumer Affairs Office for assistance.
- Military personnel protection (all utilities). State law forbids utilities from disconnecting the utility service of a residential customer if a member of the household has been issued orders for active duty if the household creates (and keeps) a payment plan with the utility provider.
Resources for paying utility bills
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Energy Assistance Program
The Energy Assistance Program (EAP) provides financial help to income-qualified households for covering natural gas, electric bills, and heating fuels (including delivered fuels).
Applications typically open on October 1 and must be postmarked or received by EAP on or before May 31. Funding is on a first-come, first-served basis. Also, energy assistance enrollment may qualify for weatherization services.
Find your Energy Assistance provider by county or tribal government. You can also find a local Energy Assistance provider by calling 1-800-657-3710.
Electricity and gas affordability programs
Income-qualified households in many areas can receive discounts on their electric or gas service through their utility, and some utilities will even forgive a portion of past-due bills. See the links below to see if your utility has an affordability program. You must qualify for or receive Energy Assistance in order to participate in these programs. Each utility’s program is different, so contact your utility or the organization listed at the appropriate link below to find out more and apply.
- Xcel Energy: Power On and Gas Affordability Programs
- CenterPoint Energy: Gas Affordability Program
- Great Plains Natural Gas: Gas Affordability Program
- Greater Minnesota Gas: Gas Affordability Program
- Minnesota Energy Resources: Gas Affordability Program
- Minnesota Power: CARE Program
- Otter Tail Power: Uplift Program (coming soon October 1, 2022)
Help for homeowners is available. Apply for HOMEHELPMN now.
Help with internet costs will be available through the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Your local county, the Salvation Army, community social service agencies, local houses of worship, or campus student services (if you or someone in your household is a college student) may offer additional help to pay utility bills.
Personalized recommendations to reduce your bill
CUB offers individual utility bill consultations to anyone in Minnesota free of charge. During this time, we are providing consultations via telephone or video call.
A phone consultation takes about 30 minutes and saves the average household $150 in the first year. Households with higher energy bills can save much more.
Contact us: email@example.com or 651-300-4701.
Energy conservation tips
Check out CUB’s energy efficiency tips for advice for this spring and year-round.
Beware of scams
Utilities have reported an uptick in scammers taking advantage of the COVID-19 emergency. A caller may demand immediate payment to prevent your service from being disconnected.
- Never give out your banking information by email or phone. Utility companies won’t demand payment by phone.
- Utilities won’t force you to pay immediately as your only option.
- Utilities won’t demand payment by gift card, cash reload card, wiring money, or cryptocurrency.
- If you receive any suspicious calls, hang up and call your utility back to ask if it was them.