MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More Minnesotans than ever needed federal assistance to pay their energy bill over the past season, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
The commerce department oversees the Energy Assistance Program, which pays utilities on behalf of eligible households.
From October until now, the EAP program has served more than 165,000 households. That number, already an increase from 2009 through 2010, will likely keep climbing.
“Folks have until May 31 to apply,” said Nicole Garrison-Sprenger with the Minnesota Department of Commerce. “We’re expecting that we will serve this year about 170,000 households in Minnesota.”
Garrison-Sprenger said there is a mix of factors for the continued increase in help.
“The economy is one factor, the weather is certainly another factor,” Garrison-Sprenger said, noting the brutal winter the state has just come through. “They kind of coincide to create the demand that we’ve seen.”
Qualifying households are ones with incomes below 50 percent of the $43,500 state median income for a family of four. The average assistance grant per household is $500.
WCCO Interviews Nicole Garrison-Sprenger