As temperatures decline, the cost of heating starts to increase. During the cold weather months, some Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) members might experience difficulty in paying their electric bills. We know that COVID-19 has created additional financial hardships, placing an even larger burden on families already struggling to pay their bills or bring their accounts current.
If you have a past-due balance with LREC or you are concerned about how to pay for heating costs this winter, there are some new resources available to help those in need.
COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program
A Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funded program, known as the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) allocates $100 million in Minnesota to cover housing expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities or other housing-related expenses. Funds are available through Dec. 31, 2020, on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligible utility expenses include gas, electric, water and sewer. Propane is currently ineligible. Only past-due expenses incurred on or after March 1, 2020, and before Dec. 20, 2020, are eligible.
To learn more about the CHAP program or to apply for assistance:
- Visit United Way 211, http://211unitedway.org/ to access the application and assistance or questions regarding eligibility, or call 800-543-7709.
- General FAQ's, including information on income limits and what is covered: http://www.mnhousing.gov/sites/np/covid19housingassistanceprogramFAQ
Energy Assistance Program
The Energy Assistance Program (EAP) is a federally funded program through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which helps low-income renters and homeowners pay for home heating costs and furnace repairs. Household income must be at or below 50% of the state median income ($54,357 for a family of four) to qualify for benefits. Applications must be received or postmarked by May 31, 2021.
To learn more about the EAP program or to apply for assistance:
- Visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Assistance website, https://mn.gov/commerce/consumers/consumer-assistance/energy-assistance/, for more details and to access the application portal.
- Contact your county EAP service provider for additional information and assistance.
Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule also helps to protect and reconnect residential heat from Oct. 15 through April 15.
Lake Region Electric Cooperative exists because of you, and we are dedicated to the people and communities we serve. If you are having difficulty paying your electric bill and do not qualify for either of the above programs, please contact us to set up a Cold Weather Rule payment plan at (800) 552-7658.