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Program: Utilities and Telecommunications

Agency: Coronavirus 2020 - 2021

Resource Number: 67434888

Utility Bills and Disconnection
  • Resources and information related to utility service across Minnesota
  • Declared policies for each utility
  • CUB will advocate if an individual runs into difficulties. Email info@cubminnesota.org or call (651)300-4701.
  • Utilities may be sending disconnection notices even though they’re not conducting shutoffs, because these notices are required to qualify for certain assistance programs. Some utilities have also said they may shut off customers who do not contact them. If an individual received a disconnection notice, they should call their utility immediately to arrange a payment plan.

Energy Assistance Expanded to More Minnesotans:

An estimated additional 100,000 Minnesota households are newly eligible for Energy Assistance, through the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s action to raise income eligibility to 60% of state median income. The Energy Assistance application deadline is extended for Minnesotans through September 1, 2021. The program assists eligible applicants with reconnection or prevent utility disconnection, and repairs or replaces homeowners’ broken heating systems. The Energy Assistance Program helps households pay energy bills from: $300 to $1,600.
  • Eligibility requirements: Assists people who rent or own their homes. In addition, people who apply for the Energy Assistance Program may qualify for free home improvements that lower energy costs through the weatherization program, which provides home energy upgrades at no cost to the homeowner or renter.
  • Application Process: Households apply for assistance with the local service provider in their area. Providers are available in every corner of the state.
    • Call (800)57-3710, and press 1, or visit the Commerce’s Energy Assistance Program online.

CenterPoint: Suspension of Disconnections and Late Payment Fees
  • During the pandemic emergency, CenterPoint Energy is committed to ensuring that customers continue to receive essential natural gas service regardless of their financial circumstances. Since March, CenterPoint Energy has suspended natural gas disconnections for non-payment and has temporarily waived late payment fees for residential and small business customers, and the company is not charging interest on past due balances.
  • Other payment assistance is available to eligible households through federally funded programs and crisis assistance offered by counties. CenterPoint Energy has a dedicated webpage with information about various types of assistance available for customers who need help paying their natural gas bill.
City of Bayport
  • Payment deadline for 1st and 2nd quarter utility bills has been extended. Late payment fees will be waived throughout the year for all households and businesses served by municipal water and sewer utilities.
City of Red Wing
  • Eliminated all late fees on utility bills and parking tickets, suspended all water shut offs, and delayed collection of liquor license fees and more
City of Rochester Public Utilities
  • Will not shut off any utilities until further notice. As this is a constantly changing situation, residents are asked to check with RPU directly for any questions regarding their services: Rochester Public Utilities or call their customer service at: (507)280-1500 or (800)778-3421
City of Saint Paul
  • As of Thursday, March 12, 2020 Mayor Carter, in coordination with Saint Paul Board of Water Commissioners, has authorized the suspension of all water shut-offs to ensure all residents can access water and can follow recommendations from health officials related to washing.
City of Virginia Public Utilities
  • Individuals who need more time to pay their bill should call (218)748-7540 to work through the payment arrangement process
Dakota Electric Association
  • Suspended disconnecting services for non-payment for the foreseeable future. Will reconnect any members that were previously disconnected without fees or deposits. Board of Directors proactively waived late fees for past due balances for residential and small business accounts on a go forward basis. Will provide even greater flexibility in making payment arrangements.
Lake Country Power
  • All service centers lobbies are temporarily closed to the public. Lobby kiosks remain open. No customers will be disconnected. Call (800)421-9959 to make payment arrangements if facing a financial hardship.
Minnesota Energy Resources
  • Disconnections suspended for residential customers, unless unsafe conditions exist, to ensure the safety of customers and employees. Payment arrangements and financial assistance can be made if an individual is having difficulty paying their bill. Learn more: ​Financial and energy assistance or call (800)889-9508.
Minnesota Power
  • Suspending disconnections for residential and small business customers. Customers having trouble paying their bill should call (800)228-4966 so a payment plan can be developed. In addition, late payment charges and have been waived. Reconnection fees during normal business hours have also been waived for customers previously disconnected for nonpayment.
WEC Energy Group
  • Will not disconnect service to any residential customers until further notice. If an individual is having difficulty paying their bills, they should contact WEC, and WEC will arrange a payment plan that works for the individual. WEC has payment plans available including for those who are impacted or otherwise experiencing a hardship due to COVID-19.
Xcel Energy
  • Payment Plan Credit Program: Provides up to 75% past-due forgiveness for those behind on energy bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program forgives up to 75% of a customer's past-due balance when they enroll in a payment plan and stay current on that plan. After signing up for the program, a customer will see a credit for 25% of the balance on their electricity bill. Most payment plans last 1 year. When the customer pays their current balance and makes payments on their plan, they'll get a bill credit every month totaling another 50% of the original balance on their account. The plan is available to residential electric customers who have between $1,000 - $4,000 in past due charges. The program is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and participation is limited. Call (800)895-4999 7 am - 7 pm Monday - Friday to check eligibility and sign up. Visit website for more information.

Emergency Broadband Benefit/FCC
Will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to 1 monthly service discount and 1 device discount per household.
Eligiblity for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program:
A household is eligible if a member of the household meets 1 of the criteria below:
  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline
  • Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since Saturday, February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program
As of Wednesday, May 12, 2021, eligible households will be able to enroll in the program to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider. Eligible households can enroll through an approved provider or by visiting here.

Check out the Broadband Benefit Consumer FAQ for more information about the benefit.
Various broadband providers, including those offering landline and wireless broadband, are participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit. Find broadband service providers offering the Emergency Broadband Benefit by state or territory. 

  • Provides low-cost home internet package for qualifying households, now available for free for the first 2 qualifying months, application for services. Broadband usage caps for home internet customers are being suspended. Service of any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer will not be terminated due to inability to pay their bill as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and late payment fees are being waived.
Charter Communications/Spectrum
  • Beginning Friday, March 13, 2020 Charter is offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll, call (844)488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households. Customers can access free unlimited access to out-of-home WiFi in places, visit website to find them.
  • Extending its COVID-19 Response benefits through 2020: no disconnects or late fees, opening business hot spots, Xfinity WiFi free for everyone, pausing data plans, and continuing Internet Essentials free
  • Pledges not to disconnect a customer's internet service or assess late fees if customers contact Comcast and advise they can't pay their bill during this COVID-19 Pandemic. Low income customers who sign up for Comcast's $9.95/month Internet Essentials Package will not be charged for the first 2 months. New and existing Internet Essentials subscribers will see their download speeds upped to 25 mbps, and upload speeds increased to 3 mbps for no extra charge. WiFi hotspots across the country are free. Data caps will be lifted for all internet customers for the next 60 days enabling unlimited data for no additional charge.
  • To apply for the Comcast Internet Essentials Package click here
  • Find low-cost internet service and computers. Visit website for more information.
  • Find temporary internet service. Visit website for more information on local deals and promotions.
Mediacom Communications
  • Extended its pandemic benefits through the July and August billing cycle. 
  • All current T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers as of Friday, March 13, 2020 who have legacy plans without unlimited high-speed data will get unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days (excluding roaming). Starting March 20, T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers on smartphone plans with hotspot data will be providing an additional 20GB of smartphone mobile hotspot (10GB per bill cycle for the next 60 days) for each voice line. (T-Mobile Connect excluded). T-Mobile is offering free international calling for all current T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers to landline (and in many cases mobile) numbers in many severely impacted countries. Visit website for more information.
  • Opened their WiFi network in Minneapolis for those that may need temporary internet access. Residents should look for "City of Minneapolis Public WiFi" or "USI Wireless" networks on their mobile device and they will be connected. USI Internet Support
  • Reinforces pledge to Keep American Connected. Waiving overage charges and late fees to support customers who may be financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Announced 2 months waived internet and voice service charges for current Lifeline customers and new affordable internet option for low income households. No data caps for consumer and small business Fios and DSL broadband internet plans.
 Xcel Energy Customers
  • Pledges not to disconnect service to any residential customers until further notice. Customers having difficulty paying their bills, should contact Excel and arrange a payment plan that works for the customer.
Visit the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for additional utility company information and telecommunication services. Individuals can also contact the Consumer Affairs Office at (651)296-0406 or 1(800)657-3782 or email at consumer.puc@state.mn.us.

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Person at the resource who last verified this information:
Last Verified On: 5/28/2021

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