Department of Commerce receives $103 million in funding for the Energy Assistance Program

The Minnesota Department of Commerce he announced that Minnesota received $103,239,338 in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program (EAP). The funds will help low-income homeowners and renters this heating season pay for heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of eligible households.

The Commerce Department administers EAP in partnership with 31 local service providers throughout the state. EAP is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program helps renters and homeowners who earn less than 50 percent of the state’s median income ($44,912 for a family of four) obtain grant money to help pay their heating bills.

Last year, Minnesota served 156,033 households with $114,970,880 in federal funds. When the propane crisis and cold weather spiked demand for EAP last winter, the Legislature and Governor Mark Dayton responded by providing the additional $20 million in state funds.

EAP assisted more than 59,000 households in “emergency” situations—either no-heat or near no-heat situations—restore heat or avert loss of heat with about $30 million of its funds. A total of 26,937 propane users received EAP funding last year, representing 18 percent of all EAP recipients. This included 16,454 propane households in emergency situations. The average grant per household was $485.

Local service providers have reviewed thousands of applications for EAP already this fall, and payments for many who qualified will begin as early as this week. There is still plenty of time for new applicants and for those who qualified last year to reapply, but funding is limited and administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications will be taken until June 1, 2015, or until funds run out.

Qualifying households must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area. Interested households should contact their local service provider by calling 1-800-657-3710 or visiting the Energy Assistance section of the Commerce Department’s website.

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