On January 27th the Minnesota Propane Association (MPA) distributed a statement regarding the propane supply crisis Lakes Gas Co. and the rest of the propane gas industry is currently experiencing. 

Like all MPA member companies, the association itself is doing its best to respond to the current supply crisis facing the industry. The MPA has fielded dozens of calls from the media seeking input about the industry response. The MPA has also fielded calls from concerned legislators and angry propane customers.

The MPA remains committed to working with the media to educate them and the public about the situation. The MPA continues to work with policy leaders on transportation and logistical assistance. The MPA continues to try and assist your customers with timely information and tips.
Following is a quick status update:

  • Minnesota is currently under an emergency hours of service waiver at both the state and regional level. The most recent Minnesota waiver that was extended by the Minnesota Department of Transportation allows for driver hours of service requirements to be waived until February 7, 2014. The regional waiver expires February 11, 2014.
  • The Minnesota Energy Assistance agency announced that ‘crisis’ funding for propane and fuel oil recipients has been doubled from $500 to $1000.
  • The NPGA is working with pipeline operators and rail transporters to prioritize propane shipments.
  • Ample supply exists in Texas. Last week, Texas waived its driver restrictions enabling trucking companies to seek fuel there.

The MPA has worked with our Washington DC, legislative delegation, and they have sent a letter to President Obama requesting the following:

  • Extension the Regional Hours of Service waiver
  • Request pipeline operators prioritize propane shipments into the Midwest and the Northeast
  • Call for a temporary restriction of propane exports
  • Increased funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The MPA encourages all members to remain as calm as possible and be mindful of how you deal with propane deliveries to the less fortunate in times of extreme cold weather. Our propane industry needs to remember the human element of this crisis and make everyone aware of all the different avenues of help available for customers who are struggling to stay warm during this extreme weather. Remember, it only takes one bad incident to ruin the industry reputation in the eyes of the general public, regulators and legislators.

The MPA also offers the following advice to all propane companies to share with your customers:

  • Turn down your thermostat 5-10 degrees.
  • If you have a propane hot water heater, reduce hot water usage.
  • Do not heat any rooms or building that do not have to be heated.
  • Reduce stove use if you have a propane stove.
  • Avoid calling your propane supplier until your gauge shows you are below 25%.
  • Do not use your grill cylinders inside your home for any reason.
  • Do not try to hook your grill cylinder to your home heating tank as this exposes your home to an extremely unsafe and illegal situation.
  • Keep a path clear to your propane tank. This will help propane delivery drivers get to your tank easily, refill quickly, and get to the next home.
  • Create your own energy plan.
    • Work with your propane company to get your home on a regular delivery schedule. 
    • Discuss payment plan options with your propane retailer. Some retailers will help you spread your projected annual cost of propane over many months, spreading out the cost of seasonally higher bills. 
    • The federal government is offering tax credits that are available for certain home improvements. These include high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment such as propane water heaters and furnaces. For more information visit www.Energytaxincentives.org. 

Finally, as Minnesota continues to experience colder than normal weather and snow covered roads, we cannot stress enough the need to safety for all working through this crisis.

The MPA can be reached at 763-633-4271.

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