State actions to date seek to improve supply, address costs on customers and suppliers
(State Capitol - Madison, WI) Following a briefing by state officials Tuesday in the State Capitol on the propane crisis, State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) and State Representative Erik Severson (R-Star Prairie) applauded the focus of state agencies and the Governor on addressing this critical issue. A shortage in propane supplies, along with accompanying price increases, is creating challenges for homeowners and small businesses in finding and being able to afford propane.
“Rural residents that rely on propane are facing incredible challenges in staying safe from the elements and protecting their homes from the bitterly cold weather,” Harsdorf stated. “It is vitally important that stakeholders do what they can to bring propane to our state and address the high costs.”
“Sen. Harsdorf and I are working with Governor Walker to ensure that state agencies are doing everything they can to increase the availability of propane throughout Wisconsin,” said Severson. “It is also important that we as a community look out for one another. I would urge everybody to check on their friends, family members and neighbors to ensure that everyone stays safe.”
A number of factors have resulted in depleted propane supplies, including pipeline and rail transportation issues, record levels of propane usage in grain drying last fall, and an unusually long spell of extreme cold weather. In response to low propane supplies, the Governor issued an executive order to allow greater shipments of propane by truck. The U.S. Department of Transportation has also waived certain trucking regulations to help deliver more propane to affected states. Governors from across the Midwest are working with governors of propane-producing states to boost supplies of propane in our region.
The Governor has also declared a state of emergency to bring all state agencies, including the National Guard, on alert to assist in any available capacity. Additional state funds are being directed to the low-income heating assistance program to help those in need of financial assistance pay their propane bills. For more information on heating assistance, you may call the program hotline at 1-866-HEATWIS (432-8947). The state is also providing emergency loan guarantees to propane suppliers so that they can afford propane shipments as they arrive from other regions of the country.
“I am confident that we will be able to quickly respond to this crisis. However, looking forward we need to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent this kind of shortage from happening again,” said Severson.
“While I applaud the quick response and efforts by state agencies thus far, it is critical that we remain diligent in working with other states and the federal government to get more propane to where it is needed,” Harsdorf continued.
State energy officials predict that propane consumers in our state, as well as those in other Midwestern states, will likely continue feeling the effects of this propane shortage through February. However, predictions are heavily dependent on the temperature and are subject to change.