MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As snow began falling in Minnesota this week, Xcel Energy is reminding residents that there are resources available for those who need help paying their heating bill this winter.

The state’s cold weather rule goes into effect Monday, meaning that low-income residents are protected from having their heat disconnected until spring.

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However, the rule does not mean that electricity or natural gas can’t be turned off, only that companies must offer a plan for people to get services.

Xcel, one of the state’s largest utility companies, says that those eligible for help can commit to its plan, where customers would not have to pay more than 10 percent of their household income on heating.

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Those interested in Xcel’s plan must apply for assistance as soon as they receive a disconnection notice. More information on the assistance program is available here.

Xcel is also advising customers who might receive disconnection notices to beware of scams.
A popular scam involves callers impersonating Xcel employees, asking for immediate payment of past-due bills with a large amount of money on pre-paid debit or credit cards.

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Xcel says if customers are suspicious about a possible scam, they should call its customer service line at 1-800-895-4999.