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Gov't Shutdown Delays MVAC's Energy Assistance Program

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It's been almost a week since the government shutdown. And we are continuing to learn more on how it impacts the local area.

The Minnesota Valley Action Council is seeing a delay in its energy assistance program, which could impact thousands.

MVAC receives nearly $3 million from the federal government to help people in the area with paying their energy bills.

Now, they say they can no longer provide grants to these clients because they are not receiving the funding at this time.

Due to the government shutdown, nearly 7,00 people in southern Minnesota alone are at risk of losing their energy assistance, meaning their energy could be turned off.

Judd Schultz says, "Well I think even though we're in some times of uncertainty here and everybody's wondering when this government impasse is going to be done with. You know, apply for energy assistance."

Housing Services Director Judd Schultz says this means families should talk to their energy provider about the cold weather rule, a service that prevents energy companies from shutting off the heat.

Schultz says, "That's sort of one of the myths is that sometimes people think that my energy provider can't cut me off in the winter or if I'm on the cold weather rule even if I don't make my payments they can't shut me off. They can shut you off."

The Cold Weather rule is in effect from October 15 through April 15, meaning that if you set up a plan with your provider, and stick to it, they cannot shut you off during that time.

Kyle Rollings, a caseworker at the Salvation Army says they have already been receiving calls on how they can help, even before the winter weather sets in.

However, he says the key is to remain in constant communication with your energy provider.

Rollings says, "Well to definitely get a hold of the utility company. Don't try to slide by and not return their calls because that's when you get into a lot of trouble."

There is no telling when the government will reopen, leaving MVAC and their clients left to play the waiting game before the weather takes a turn for the worse.