Many Minnesotans in and around Rochester 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. Three Rivers Community Action provides energy assistance services in the Rochester area and can be reached at www.threeriverscap.org or 507-316-0610. 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.

I serve as a volunteer 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.

Anna Richey, Rochester