ST. PAUL (WCCO) — As cold as it might be, we’re still a long way from joining the ranks of the coldest Minnesota winters.

Pete Boulay, an assistant state climatologist, says this one feels so cold and unrelenting because it’s more normal than more recent winters.

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“We just haven’t had that many extreme winters in recent years,” Boulay said. “We haven’t had this kind of cold this persistent at least in the last 10 to 15 years. If you go back to the mid-90s and the 1980s and 70s, this kind of cold was very common.”

The high demand for home heating does have many struggling to pay their bills. That’s where the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance program can help.

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“There has been a spike in demand since the cold weather — we’ve seen that — up about a 10 percent increase,” Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said.

For those most needy, it provides energy grants averaging about $500.

“These are very tough times and we absolutely need to make sure that they get the heat they need during these very cold periods of time and we’re working hard to get the dollars out there,” Rothman added.

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There’s over $90 million in Federal funds for the Low income heat assistance. In fact, due to the severity of the winter, congress just passed additional emergency funds. The number to call for more information is 1-800-657-3710.