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Minnesota Low-Income Get Appliance Replacements, Including ACs

July 15 - Weatherization agencies in Minneapolis-St Paul and the surrounding area, in partnership with four local utilities, are  seeking clients for the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP). The clients' utility providers fund the program, which is primarily administered during the summer months.

Participating utilities are Dakota Electric, Shakopee Public Utilities, Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative, and Xcel Energy. The goal of the program is to reduce energy consumption, thereby reducing energy bills.

To be eligible an applicant cannot have an annual income of more than $21,695 for a one- person household, $29,140 for a two-person household, $36,620 for a three-person household or $44,100 for a four-person household.

During the home audit, customers accompany an energy auditor who reviews appliances being used in the home as well as recent energy bills. Clients are educated on energy conservation practices, such as using compact fluorescent bulbs, proper appliance maintenance, and using water flow restrictors. Energy auditors will also complete installation of some of these devices.

In addition, a central air-conditioning tune-up may be performed. The appliance replacement program provides homeowners with new, Energy-Star appliances at a reduced cost, with the utilities funding the remaining cost. Arrangements are made for delivery and installation of the new appliance, as well as removal of the old appliance.

Appliances under the program include refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers, microwaves, and window or wall air conditioners, with specific items and costs varying depending on the utility. Local contractors conduct audits and appliances are purchased from local companies, thus returning dollars into the local economy.

Potential clients can contact participating agencies and provide their name, address, and utility company. If the homeowner has not yet applied for energy assistance, they should ask for their local agency’s  energy assistance department first to get qualified for the program. They will then be contacted to review qualifications before the energy review can be scheduled.

Minnesota state law mandates CIPs.  All electric and natural gas utilities in Minnesota develop their own conservation improvement plans for all customer classes, including the low income.

Source: Minnesota newspapers