ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans looking for help with their utility bills can get a little extra assistance after a cold snap earlier this month sent much of the country into unseasonably low temperatures.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has decided to double their Energy Assistance Program's annual crisis benefit from $600 to $1200 per household.

Each year the program helps people all across the state pay their energy bills, get reconnected, prevent disconnection, and repair or replace their broken heating systems.

To qualify for the assistance, renters or homeowners must have a household income at or under 50 percent of the state median income. For example, a family of four would need to earn less than $54,357, and a single-person home would need to earn less than $28,266.

The department is accepting applications until May 31st, but the funding is limited and first-come, first-served.

Last winter nearly 118,000 Minnesota households were helped by the assistance program.

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