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Governor Dayton expands eligibility for heating assistance

Fri, Feb 7th, 2014
Posted in All Home & Garden

As many residents of Minnesota are feeling the pinch of sky-rocketing propane costs, Governor Mark Dayton announced on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 that he has taken action to expand eligibility for the Minnesota’s heating assistance program by signing an executive order.

Beginning on February 4, the executive action means that approximately 120,000 more Minnesota households will now qualify for help from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

According to the Governor’s website, www.mn.gov/governor, the Minnesota Department of Commerce estimates that because of this change, an additional 30,000 to 40,000 newly-eligible Minnesotans will apply for heating assistance this winter.

Applications for Energy Assistance for area residents can be obtained from Semcac located at 204 S. Elm Street in Rushford, Minn. The phone number for Semcac is (507) 864-7741. Hours are Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

The State Emergency Operations Center has set up a hotline for Minnesota residents with propane issues or questions. Anyone with questions about the current propane situation or Fillmore County residents in danger of running out of heating fuel can call 1-800-657-3504. Hours of the Propane Shortage Hotline are Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

The staff who answer phones for the hotline are experts with the Minnesota Department of Commerce who can provide information on Energy Assistance Programs and help connect callers with resources available to them as well as answering other questions.

With propane costs shooting up to almost four times the usual price in some cases residents and business owners are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

On January 27, 2014 Governor Dayton issued Emergency Executive Order 14-02 declaring a Peacetime State of Emergency in Minnesota due to the drastic shortage of propane along with other heating fuel and supplies.

The executive order signed on February 4 will give tangible assistance to those who need it the most by extending eligibility for heating assistance from 50 percent of the state median income to 60 percent. This means that a household of four earning less than $52,370 a year will now qualify for heating assistance. A two person household earning less than $35,612 per year would qualify under the new guidelines.

The Minnesota Cold Weather Rule offers short term relief for anyone unable to pay their heating bill. The Minnesota Cold Weather Rule protects people from unlawful shut offs from October 15 - April 15.

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