ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Department of Commerce still has funds in its energy assistance program to help people pay their energy bills.

The energy assistance program serves households earning less than 50% of the state's median annual income, which is $52,014 for a family of four.

In a news release the Department of Commerce encouraged the newly unemployed, households with young children, people with disabilities, veterans and seniors to apply.

New applicants have until July 1 to apply with their local service providers. Funding is limited to a first-come, first-served basis. Visit mn.gov/commerce and search "energy assistance program" for the income guidelines and to find a service provider.

The Department of Commerce administers the program in partnership with 29 local service providers. Last year, the energy assistance program served 126,000 Minnesota households with an average grant of about $545, according to the release.