MOORHEAD, Minn. — More Minnesotans could get help keeping their homes warm and lights on this winter.

Under new changes, more than 600,000 Minnesota households are income-eligible for energy assistance this winter, according to the state Department of Commerce.

In the previous program year, about 116,000 Minnesota households applied and qualified for the program.

Over $130 million in federal energy assistance funds, with more expected this fall, are available to Minnesota households. Residents can get help paying current and past-due bills for electricity, gas, oil, biofuel and propane, emergency fuel delivery, and to repair or replace broken heating systems.

The Department of Commerce raised the program’s income eligibility limit to 60% of Minnesota’s median income levels or $67,765 per year for a family of four.

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It’s also increasing benefit amounts to reduce energy burdens: up to $1,600 for energy bills and $1,200 for past-due bills.

Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule, which protects customers from having electric or natural gas service shut off, is also lasting longer than before, from Oct. 1 to April 30.

To apply for Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program, visit mn.gov/commerce/consumers/consumer-assistance/energy-assistance or call 800-657-3710.

To apply for the Cold Weather Rule, contact your natural gas or electric company and request a CWR payment plan.