Economy & Business
10:49 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Wisconsin Addresses Propane Shortage, for Homes that Need it for Heat

Residential propane tank
Residential propane tank
Credit Mark Evans, Flickr

Frigid temperatures early this week will put an even greater strain on propane supplies.

People who use propane to heat their homes are paying three times more than usual for fuel --if they can get it. 

After meeting with industry representatives on Monday, Gov. Walker instructed the Dept. of Administration to release $7 million more in energy assistance benefits, to help low-income residents pay the higher cost of heating their homes. He told two other agencies to release $8 million in loan guarantees to propane dealers, to help them obtain propane on the wholesale market and deliver it to consumers.

Roger Boehlke of the Wisconsin Propane Gas Association  says distributors set aside an ample supply of fuel every fall. However, a wet harvest last fall  required greater amounts of propane to dry corn, and that reduced winter's supplies set aside for home heating and industry needs.

Boehlke says state regulators have temporarily relaxed restrictions on the hours semi-trucks can haul propane.

Freight rail companies have been asked to add tank cars to move product to areas facing shortages.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin has asked the White House to intervene and to curtail exports of the fuel until state residents' needs are met.