Many Minnesotans in and around Bemidji are having difficulty paying their heating and electricity bills amid the pandemic. The state of Minnesota and a group called the Clean Energy Resource Teams may have some support to offer those feeling the burden of energy expenses.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has funds available for Energy Assistance, and the recently approved federal stimulus includes over $100 million for Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program, nearly doubling the amount of support.

If you qualify, you could receive significant assistance to help pay your energy bills. Eligible applicants receive an initial grant between $300 and $1,600 for energy expenses and can be eligible for up to $1,200 more to help pay overdue bills, avoid a utility shut off, or get a fuel delivery.

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Bi-County Community Action Program provides energy assistance services in the Bemidji area and can be reached at www.bicap.org or (218) 751-4631. Eligibility is based on income and family size. Individuals need to earn less than $28,266 to qualify, while families of four can earn up to $54,357.

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I serve as a steering committee member for the Clean Energy Resource Teams, a group that helps people in Minnesota with their energy questions. They created a series of home energy guides that provide tips for how to keep your home comfortable, safe and efficient, how to understand energy bills, and what to do in the case of energy emergencies: www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/home.

I sincerely hope that these resources can provide some relief for local residents.

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