ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - Requests for heating aid are on a record pace for central Minnesota.

Tri-County Action Program provides heating assistance for residents of Stearns, Benton, Morrison and Sherburne counties.

The program has received more than 5,500 applications since Oct. 1. Executive Director  Angela Theisen says that's about 900 more than this time last year.

Theisen says demand is being driven by a combination of the economy and the harsh winter, as well as the group's efforts to make sure those who are eligible apply.

She says the recent news that Minnesota will receive an additional $142.7 million for the low-income home energy assistance program is welcome. She says they've almost exhausted the $3 million it received so far.

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