Consumers having problems paying utility bills should contact their energy provider as soon as possible. Minnesota has the “Cold Weather Rule” that prohibits utility shutoffs from October 15 to April 15. However, you must apply for protection with your utility or the utility does have the right to disconnect your service. Contact your utility to learn how to keep your home safe and warm.
There is help with the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program . The EAP will help you connect with available funding to help pay your heating bills. The EAP serves low income households with emphasis on seniors, people with disabilities and families with children under six years. Households are considered low income if their earnings are less than 50 percent of the state median income. EAP serves both homeowners and renters who pay for heat directly to an energy vendor or indirectly, if included in rent costs paid to a landlord. In addition, homeowners may receive assistance with furnace repair or replacement.
To see if you qualify for state assistance, please visit the current Energy Assistance Eligibility Guidelines on the Minnesota Dept. of Commerce's Division of Energy Resources site.
Grants vary depending on family size, income and fuel consumption. For help, call 1-800-657-3710.
Former Governor Pawlenty initiated a Stay Warm Minnesota campaign to help families. Visit the website for information and resources to help you get through another cold winter while paying your utility bills. Visit www.staywarm.state.mn.us for energy tips and a one stop shop for energy assistance programs.
If you find it difficult to pay your electric bills, these energy assistance agencies may be able to provide financial help and more information about energy assistance.
- AEOA, Virginia: 800-662-5711 or 218-749-2912
- AEOA, Duluth: 218-624-7625
- AEOA, Hermantown: 218-729-5509
- Aitkin County Social Services, Aitkin: 800-328-3744
- Bi County CAP: 800-332-7161
- Bois Forte Tribal Government, Nett Lake: 800-221-8129 or 218-757-3261
- Carlton County Human Services, Cloquet: 800-642-9082
- Cass County: 218-547-1340
- Fond Du Lac Reservation, Cloquet: 800-365-1613 or 218-878-2668
- Itasca County Social Services, Grand Rapids: 800-422-0312 or 218-327-2941
- KOOTASCA Community Action, Grand Rapids: 218-999-0800
- Lake County: 218-834-8400
- Lake & Pines Community Action Council, Mora: 800-832-6082
- Leech Lake: 866-864-8668 or 335-3783
- Legal Aid Service: 218-749-3270 or 800-886-3270
- Mille Lacs Band, Onamia: 888-622-4163 or 320-532-7880
- Pine County Social Services, Sandstone: 320-629-5600
- Salvation Army, Cloquet: 218-879-1693
- Salvation Army, Duluth: 218-722-7934
- Salvation Army, Grand Rapids: 218-326-5620
- Salvation Army, Virginia: 218-741-1889
- St. Louis County Social Services, Ely: 218-365-8220
- St. Louis County Social Services, Hibbing: 218-262-6000
- St. Louis County Social Services, Virginia: 218-749-7137
Cold weather rule effective October 15
In 1991, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law that includes electric cooperatives in the Cold Weather Rule. The law provides that utilities must not disconnect and must reconnect the utility service of a residential customer during the period between October 15 and April 15 if the disconnection affects the primary heat source for the residential unit and all of the following conditions are met:
1. Household income of the customer is at or below 50 percent of the state median
income. Income may be verified on forms provided by LCP or by the local energy
2. The customer enters into and makes reasonably timely payments under a payment
agreement that considers the financial resources of the household; and
3. A customer receives from LCP referrals to energy assistance, weatherization,
conservation, or other programs likely to reduce the customer’s energy bills.
The law does allow for LCP to disconnect when it is necessary from October 15 to April 15, so please act promptly. LCP works with members during the Cold Weather Rule period, just as we do throughout the year. We don’t want to interrupt service to any member, but in a cooperative, all members suffer when any bill remains unpaid. If bills remain unpaid, this amount must be absorbed by members who faithfully pay their bill each month. LCP would rather work with members to establish and maintain adequate payment schedules of their past due bill, but sometimes disconnection must be made when necessary, within the limits of the law. Before disconnecting service to residential customers from October 15 to April 15, the cooperative must provide the following information:
• notice of proposed disconnection (disconnection notice);
• statement explaining customers’ rights and responsibilities;
• list of energy assistance providers;
• forms available for customer to request cold weather disconnect protection and
• a statement explaining the payment plan to secure continued service
Please contact Lake Country Power, if you have any questions about the Cold Weather Rule or energy assistance programs.
Military personnel disconnection law
The 2007 Minnesota Legislature passed a law that includes electric cooperatives in the Military Personnel Disconnection Law. The law provides that utilities must not disconnect service to a residential customer if a member of the household has been issued military orders into active duty, for deployment, or for a permanent change in duty station during that period. To be eligible for disconnection protection, the member must contact the cooperative to request a “Military Personnel Disconnect Protection Form”, meet income eligibility guidelines and set up a mutually acceptable payment schedule.
Before disconnecting service to military personnel in situations as listed above, the cooperative must provide the following information: notice of proposed disconnection; statement explaining customers’ rights and responsibilities; list of energy assistance providers; disconnect protection form and a statement explaining the payment plan to secure continued service.
Please contact Lake Country Power, if you have any questions about the “Military Personnel Disconnection Law” or energy assistance programs.
Minnesota Mortgage Debt Counseling Available
If you are a homeowner and are currently facing a foreclosure, or are falling behind in your mortgage, home equity loan, property taxes or homeowner association dues, go to www.hocmn.org or call one of the locations below:
- Cass County: Bi-County Community Action Program in Walker at 1-800-332-7135 extension 112 or 218-547-3438 extension 112.
- Crow Wing and Morrison Counties: LSS Financial Counseling in Duluth at 1-800-777-7419.
Minnesota has seen an alarming trend in home foreclosures. In 2008, it was estimated that 80,000 Minnesota home owners were expected to become delinquent on their mortgage payment. Fortunately foreclosure prevention counselors are available. The Minnesota Home Ownership Center advances successful homeownership in Minnesota by connecting people to information, education and counseling.