Propane shortages prompting state officials to act

Propane tank (KSN File Photo)
Propane tank (KSN File Photo)

TOPEKA, Kansas – Gov. Sam Brownback is trying to make sure propane gets to families who need it to heat their homes by easing trucking regulations and directing state officials to provide help to poor families.

Brownback announced a series of actions Wednesday to deal with propane shortages and high costs.

“Well, this is really a safety issue for people in Kansas who rely on propane for heat. Right now, our weather isn’t bad, but one more cold snap, one more harsh bit of winter air that comes through and people who rely on propane for heat are going to have a real problem, and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Eileen Hawley, Governor’s spokesperson.

The national average price for propane spiked earlier this week at more than $4 a gallon, up more than $1 a gallon since last week.

Both the state’s attorney general and the Senate Utility Committee are looking into claims of price gouging.

“There’s no reason to believe there was any manipulation of price here, but there are attorneys general in several Midwestern states that have gotten together to look into the matter and AG Schmidt is one of those and Kansas is participating,” added Hawley.

Industry and state officials say supplies were depleted after last year’s harvest when farmers needed to dry an unusually large amount of grain.

“We are at 20 year record lows for the amount of propane available in the Midwest. The price also spiked. The good news is it’s going down, but a week or so ago the price went from about a dollar a gallon for propane up to $5.”

Brownback is directing the Department for Children and Families to give priority to propane users in a state program assisting poor families with utility costs.

About 83,000 Kansans homes use propane for heat.

Related:
Official release from Governor Sam Brownback’s Office
Link to apply online for the LIEAP program
For questions or applications, you can call the DCF at 800-432-0043

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