Yesterday, August 2, 2021, the state’s pandemic-related moratorium on utility disconnection was officially lifted. Thus, Minnesota households that are past due one their gas and/or electricity bills are now subject to having those services shutoff, threatening the comfort, health, and safety of hundreds of thousands of people in our state. According to Xcel Energy, Minnesota’s biggest utility service provider, the average past due bill for their customers exceeds $500, while the average unpaid amount for CenterPoint Energy customers is approximately half of that.
The good news is that help is available through the Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Assistance Program, which still has millions of dollars in federal funds to distribute in 2021. Moreover, the eligibility guidelines have been increased for the remainder of the year to include households at or below 60% of the state median income. Qualifying individuals and families can receive up to $1,600 to assist them in paying their energy bills and additional crisis funds of up to $1,200 to specifically catch up on past due bills.
And, as our Energy Assistance Outreach and Media Coordinator, Keich Hepburn, tells the Star Tribune, households “don’t have to wait for a disconnection notice” to apply for energy assistance dollars. Households in our service area, including current Energy Assistance recipients and new applicants, can contact Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties by calling 651-645-6470, sending an email to email@example.com, or visiting us online at our Energy Assistance page. Applications can also be picked up at our St. Paul headquarters (450 Syndicate Street North – Suite 122) or at our Washington County program site in Oakdale (1101 Geneva Avenue North).
For those residing outside of Ramsey or Washington counties, please visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Assistance website to find your local energy assistance service provider.
Minnesota’s COVID-19 moratorium on evictions is also being phased out and households that are past due on their rent are at risk of losing their homes. Eligible households that have already applied for rental assistance or apply right now will be protected from eviction, even while their application is pending. Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties is the program administrator and will be processing applications for the St. Paul – Ramsey County Rental Assistance Program. For more information and/or to apply for rental assistance, please call 651-999-5737, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or apply online at our website. For those outside of Ramsey County, please go to RentHelpMN.org.