Cold takes costly budget bite for heating costs


Even if you dialed back your thermostat and never took off that sweater around the house, it was simply more expensive to keep warm during this long winter, the coldest one that Minnesotans have endured in many years.

The Pioneer Press reports that Xcel Energy says that the average residential customer's heating bill between November and March jumped by a startling 36 percent over the previous winter. That means customers had to shell out an average $665, up from $490.

The company said much of the increase was due to a 26 percent hike in natural gas prices, which sounds steep but is actually less than predicted in January. The utility also noted that customers increased their usage by 18 percent, a result of the bitter temperatures. Xcel spokesman Pat Boland said the company saw residential past-due bills rise by 7 percent.

The Pierce County Herald notes that time is running out for Minnesotans with past-due bills. They must get current or make payment arrangements by April 15th when Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule expires. People having trouble paying their bills are advised to contact their energy company in advance of the deadline to address payment options. Otherwise, they risk having services disconnected. Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule protects residents from having their primary heating source disconnected between mid-October and mid-April.

It's not too late to apply for heating assistance. The legislature approved an additional $20 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help about 180,000 Minnesotans cover the cost of keeping warm. In February, Gov. Mark Dayton reduced the threshold to qualify for the program, extending aid to an additional 120,000 households.

Catherine Fair, director of energy assistance for the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties told the Pioneer Press that the organization has distributed nearly $8 million for heating assistance is still receiving 500 applications for aid each week.

To apply for heating assistance, contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce through its website or call 800-657-3710.

Next Up

Pixabay - emergency room ambulance hospital

St. Paul man dies six days after crash on I-94

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner has identified the man as David Rodney Hardaway.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

Double murder in northeastern Minnesota, suspect kills himself after chase

The suspect died at the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

chaska school fight

Anti-masker involved in school board meeting fight charged with assault

It happened last month at an Eastern Carver County Schools hearing.

Marcus Foligno

Marcus Foligno throws hands, scores game-winning goal in Wild's opener

The Wild forward scored with 7.2 seconds left to beat Anaheim.

Screen Shot 2021-10-15 at 10.01.55 PM

Large police presence at Emagine Willow Creek movie theater in Plymouth

There are few details at this stage as to what has happened.

Maple Grove Police Department

Maple Grove-based businessman convicted of fatally shooting wife

Wiseman owns properties in both Minnesota, Nevada and China.

betty and earls biscuits facebook

Jason Matheson's biscuit shop to briefly close ahead of relaunch

Betty & Earl's will shut down for two weeks before reopening under a new name.

Simon Merino Go Fund Me

Worker dies in forklift accident at paper recycling business

The victim was described as a loving father of two who was devoted to his church.

rosie means - go fund me

Authorities ID woman killed by hit-and-run driver who ran red light

A fundraiser was created to support the family after the "sudden and senseless loss."

Prior Lake Football

Watch: Prior Lake stuns Rosemount with last-second hook and ladder

The Lakers dusted off an old favorite to get a victory on Thursday night.

unsplas - maple leaf frost fall lawn

MN gets its first frost advisories, freeze warnings of the season

The coldest spots could dip to below 30 degrees overnight.


Ahead of Big Ten clash, Huskers fans spend their Friday mocking PJ Fleck

Huskers fans are in a playful mood ahead of Saturday's game.