In one week, the national average price of propane has increased by $1 per gallon, sending a chill up the spines of many Kansans.
On Wednesday, Gov. Sam Brownback announced plans to deal with propane shortages and rising costs in Kansas. According to the Associated Press, about 83,000 Kansas homes use propane for heat.
Those who can’t afford winter heating bills – including those on natural gas – have options. One of the best known is the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP). Brownback has ordered the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) to reach out to low-income families to make them aware of LIEAP and other programs. DCF will increase staffing to process LIEAP applications while encouraging propane providers to continue deliveries to those behind on their bills.
The governor also issued executive orders granting temporary relief – through Feb. 14 – from rules and regulations for motor carriers who deliver propane in Kansas. Meanwhile, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the state will participate in a multi-state inquiry into why propane prices have suddenly spiked.
“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.”
This is a decided improvement over action taken last October, when DCF dropped its participation in a federal grant program designed to help poor people apply for food stamps. Then, DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed told the Kansas Health Institute News Service, “We simply do not believe taxpayer dollars should be used to recruit people to be on welfare.”
The DCF may not want to help people find food for their children, but at least it will be helping them find ways to avoid freezing.