As a result of ECC’s advocacy efforts, approximately 20,000 households will benefit from direct bill payment and conservation assistance programs designed to supplement the Energy Assistance Program (about 17% of the MN Energy Assistance Program customers). In addition, ECC’s numerous policy initiatives and regulatory efforts provide additional consumer protection to the over 400,000 Minnesota households living at or below 50% of state median income.
Our Advocacy History
To date, ECC has leveraged over $400 million in non-federal funding for low-income bill payment and conservation assistance programs. The amount of funding continues to grow as these programs are established by statute or regulatory precedent.
1997: Based on nearly 14,000 return surveys, ECC initiates a study (“Energy GAP”) documenting the adverse impact of unaffordable energy bills on low-income seniors and families. The study inspired the National Energy Assistance Directors ongoing national survey documenting the affect of unaffordable energy bills on household’s ability to afford food, medicine, adequate heating and cooling sources, and housing instability.
1999: ECC publishes the Energy GAP Study
1995-2002: ECC designs and implements pilot utility bill-payment assistance programs, including pilots that would evolve into the current Gas Affordability Programs and the POWER On Program and a statewide propane “pre-buy” to purchase LP gas at discounted prices for LIHEAP households
2000-2002: ECC work with organized labor, environmental organizations, municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives to defeat attempts to deregulate Minnesota’s electric utility industry
2003: ECC begins providing low-income energy conservation services.
2004-2009: ECC works with Red Lake Nation to address Beltrami Electric Cooperative discriminatory practices and to establish conservation programs and renewable energy projects
2016: ECC helps design Minnesota Power's Affordability Program
2009-present: ECC administers bill-payment and conservation programs for Xcel Energy, CenterPoint Energy, and Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation. ECC advocates for affordability and conservation program funding and to improve program design and delivery
2020-2022: Commission approves ECC’s recommendations requiring utility reporting regarding customers’ ability to pay, past-due bills, average bills, service disconnections and reconnections. See full reports here - Under search, type year “23” and Docket No. “02” Type “24” and “02”
2023: PUC approves ECC’s recommendation requiring Xcel Energy to provide a low-income, low-usage electric rate discount to 97,000 low-income Xcel customers
Ongoing: ECC represents low-income utility customers through policy advisory committees, before municipalities, and in regulatory proceedings