TOPEKA – Governor Sam Brownback Thursday announced actions taken to minimize the effects of a propane crisis on Kansans, particularly during cold winter weather.
“For those Kansans who rely on propane, particularly in our rural areas, a propane shortage and rising costs can put them at risk during cold weather,” Brownback said. “While Kansas has been spared the worst of the cold weather, we must ensure they have continued access to propane at reasonable cost. This is an issue of safety and well-being for our citizens.”
The shortage is believed to be caused by unusually cold winter temperatures across a large part of the U.S., a wet fall that increased demand for propane to dry grain prior to shipment and a combination of weather issues across the country, said Greg Noll, executive vice president of the Propane Marketers Association of Kansas.
There is not a necessarily a shortage of propane, Noll said. “There are just issues getting from where it is available to where it is needed” caused by the massive demand and temporary infrastructure problems.
Propane levels in the Midwest are at record lows, posing a potential risk to the more than 1,400 Kansans who use propane as a primary energy and heating source. Propane costs have spiked in the past two months, rising by 28 percent nationally according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“Our office is participating in a multi-state inquiry into the recent spike in propane prices,” said Attorney General Derek Schmidt. “We are also meeting with local industry representatives to determine the cause of these increases.
Brownback outlined key actions he has taken to protect Kansans:
• Directed the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to provide priority status to applications for Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) for those clients who use propane as a primary heating source. DCF will increase staffing to process applications and reach out to propane providers to continue to provide a propane delivery to LIEAP recipients, even if a client’s account is delinquent.
• Directed DCF to reach out to low-income families using propane as a primary heating source and make them aware of available resources, including the LIEAP program.
• Issued two Executive Orders granting temporary relief from motor carrier rules and regulations to ensure the continued delivery of propane to individuals and businesses across the state. The Executive Orders provided relief from Jan. 9 through Feb. 14.
• Directed state agencies to give priority attention to the effects of this propane shortage and provide priority assistance to propane users throughout the state.
• Encouraged representatives of the propane industry to ensure the continued supply of propane, particularly to residential users, for the duration of this shortage.
“The health and safety of Kansans is my primary concern in taking these actions,” Brownback said. “Bringing our state agencies and the propane industry together during this shortage should ensure that Kansans who rely on propane for heat and energy are not faced with losing this critical service.”
For applications or questions about the LIEAP program, call DCF at 1-800-432-0043. You may also apply online, visit www.dcf.ks.gov. The application period began Jan. 21 and runs through March 31.