As extended Cold Weather Rule goes into effect, Minnesota Power is ready to help customers behind on their bills
Oct 1, 2021
Duluth, Minn. – Minnesota Power reminds residential customers who may be having difficulty paying their energy bills that help is available. In addition to payment plans offered by Minnesota Power, customers also may benefit from an extension of the Cold Weather Rule and be eligible for additional Energy Assistance Program dollars through the American Rescue Plan.
“We know customers have faced some tough times and we’re here to help them explore options for managing their bills. We can also connect them with available resources like energy assistance and RentHelpMN,” said Tina Koecher, manager of Customer Experience Operations. “And now, as the weather gets colder, it’s important to be aware of the state’s Cold Weather Rule, which has recently been extended by about four weeks. We are here to work with customers on a path forward.”
Minnesota Power payment assistance
If customers have a past-due balance on their bill or are struggling to keep up, Minnesota Power can help in several ways.
- Contact Minnesota Power at 800-228-4966 to explore options and set up a payment plan to avoid disconnection.
- Late payment charges on past-due balances and fees for reconnection during normal business hours will continue to be waived through April 30, 2022, for residential and small-business customers who establish and maintain a payment plan.
- Disconnections will be halted through April 30, 2022, for residential customers who have an application pending or approved for the state’s Energy Assistance Program, commonly called LIHEAP.
Cold Weather Rule extended
Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule has been lengthened by about four weeks—beginning about two weeks earlier and ending about two weeks later. It now is effective from Oct. 1 to April 30 each year.
Under this state statute, eligible residential energy customers are protected from service disconnection during the Cold Weather Rule period if the disconnection would affect the customer’s primary heating source. Customers must work out a monthly payment plan with Minnesota Power to be protected. The Minnesota Cold Weather Rule does not prevent winter shutoff if customers don’t commit to a payment plan and don’t make the agreed-to payments on time.
Additional Energy Assistance available
With winter just around the corner, the state’s Energy Assistance Program, or EAP, may benefit residential customers who need help paying their bill. Additional dollars to help both homeowners and renters are available through the federal American Rescue Plan.
“Our team is ready and available to help customers in the region through the Energy Assistance application process,” said Jean Pelletier, Energy Assistance manager for Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency. “Energy Assistance is a great resource to help customers who may be struggling to get caught up or to keep up with their electric and heating bills.”
“Receiving an Energy Assistance grant can keep a family from making the choice between fuel and food,” said Joan Markon, Fond du Lac Energy Assistance coordinator. “With more dollars available, more homes can receive help with energy costs.”
Visit www.mnpower.com/CustomerService/EnergyAssistance or call (800) 657-3710 for information. Minnesota Power encourages eligible residential customers to apply for Energy Assistance Program dollars or refer a family member or friend to these financial resources. Even if customers have applied before, additional dollars may be available. Households that qualify for Energy Assistance also may be eligible to receive other benefits, including exemptions from some fees and weatherization and energy efficiency programs.
Minnesota Power’s CARE program (Customer Affordability of Residential Electricity, www.mnpower.com/customerservice/careprogram) is a discount program that may help. Customers can find out if they are eligible for a reduced electric bill through CARE by visiting mnpower.com/care. In addition, the Salvation Army HeatShare program is a resource available for customers who are unable to pay their energy bills or make heating-related repairs. It is also a way for customers to spread the warmth by donating at www.mnpower.com/HeatShare. Renters may be eligible for rental and utility assistance through RentHelpMN. More details are available at renthelpmn.org.
Watch for scammers
Customers also are reminded to be aware of scam phone calls that threaten power shutoffs. Minnesota Power does not call customers to demand immediate payment, and does not ask for credit or debit account numbers or threaten disconnection over the phone.
Any customers receiving such a call should not provide card numbers or their Minnesota Power account number. They should instead hang up and contact Minnesota Power at (800) 228-4966 if they have concerns. Customers also can report the calls and the numbers the calls came from to their local police department.
To learn more, go to www.mnpower.com/Alerts. To avoid any phone scam, the Federal Trade Commission recommends people ignore calls from toll-free numbers they are not familiar with and block them if possible.
Minnesota Power provides electric service within a 26,000-square-mile area in northeastern Minnesota, supporting comfort, security and quality of life for 145,000 customers, 15 municipalities and some of the largest industrial customers in the United States. More information can be found by visiting www.mnpower.com.
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