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Struggling to pay your heating bill?

With more frigid temperatures here, the Minnesota Department of Commerce wants to remind low-income Minnesotans on how to get help paying their heating bills through the state's Energy Assistance Program.

"Energy assistance helps pay energy bills so that low-income seniors, veterans and families do not struggle keeping their home heat on during our cold winters," said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. "Heating your home is a necessity in Minnesota, and we don't want anyone's health or safety put at risk because they can't afford to pay for heat."

Energy Assistance helps low-income homeowners and renters pay for heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of eligible households. The funding also helps some homeowners repair or replace malfunctioning heat systems. Households that include young children, people with disabilities, veterans, and seniors are especially encouraged to apply.

In October 2016, Minnesota received $101 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for this year's Energy Assistance Program. Last year Minnesota served nearly 133,000 households with EAP funds, with an average grant of about $500.

Commerce administers the Energy Assistance Program in partnership with 30 local service providers throughout the state. The program is federally funded and helps households that earn less than 50 percent of the state's median annual income ($47,194 for a family of four) obtain funds to help pay their heating bills.

New applicants have until May 31 to apply, but funding is limited and administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Qualifying households must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area. To find your local service provider, call the Commerce Department toll-free at (800) 657-3710 or or visit the Energy Assistance Program section of the Commerce Department’s website.

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