Minnesota Power remains committed to helping customers with their energy bills during COVID-19
Oct 15, 2020
State’s Cold Weather Rule starts this week
Duluth, Minn. — Minnesota Power reminds residential and small-business customers who may be having difficulty paying their energy bills during the COVID-19 pandemic that help is available. The company suspended disconnections for nonpayment in March and has taken a variety of other actions to help customers, including customers who may be facing financial hardships for the first time.
Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule, in place from Oct. 15 through April 15 each year, also offers protections for residential customers.
About the Cold Weather Rule
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.
Even though Minnesota Power has currently suspended disconnections for nonpayment, customers are strongly encouraged to call to set up a payment plan to avoid building up large balances that would be harder to pay later.
Other customer protections, resources, and a way to ‘spread the warmth’
In addition to suspending disconnections for nonpayment, Minnesota Power’s protections for both residential and small-business customers affected by the pandemic include:
- Waiving late payment charges.
- Waiving reconnection fees during normal business hours for customers previously disconnected for nonpayment.
- Offering flexible and extended payment plans for customers based on their unique financial circumstances. While customers’ service won’t be disconnected and they will have extra time to pay their bill if they need it, Minnesota Power encourages them to stay as up to date with payments as possible to avoid building up a large balance that will be harder to pay off later. Any customers facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 are encouraged to contact Minnesota Power at 1-800-228-4966 regarding payment plans and options.
With winter just around the corner, an Energy Assistance Program, or EAP, may benefit residential customers who need help paying their bill. Visit 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. 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) is a discount program that may help. Customers can find out if they are eligible for a reduced electric rate 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 mnpower.com/HeatShare.
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 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 at www.mnpower.com.
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