(1/31/14) Wisconsin, along with numerous other states is experiencing issues regarding the price and availability of propane for use in homes and businesses.
This "shortage" and the associated significant rise in prices charged to purchasers are being attributed to several factors. These include increased demand last fall for propane to dry grain which was harvested, cold temperatures this winter, increased exports and limited transportation, and unavailability of a pipeline for approximately 1 month.
This situation is having an impact locally. Both on propane vendors as well as the customers they serve. The increase in prices has made paying for propane difficult for many people. Customers and vendors will need to work with each other as we deal with this situation.
Clark County agencies and officials have come together to discuss the situation and work to help the residents of the county obtain assistance through programs such as the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) and the Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund (KWWF). These programs are administered locally and receive funds from outside sources including the State of Wisconsin as well as private donations. The income limit for the WHEAP program is 60% of the state median income while the KWWF has adjusted their income limit to 80% of the state median income. Those in financial need who think they may be eligible should contact the Energy Assistance program in Clark County at 715-743-5233.
Users of propane need to be aware of things they can do to reduce the impacts of this situation especially during the cold weather we are currently facing. Some of the steps which can be taken include:
1. Only call your propane company for delivery of fuel if your tank is 30% full, or less. But don't wait to call if you are nearly out of fuel. Check your tank regularly.
2. Make reasonable adjustments on your thermostat to conserve the propane you have.
3. Check on your neighbors, especially the sick, disabled or frail elderly
4. Utilize alternative heat sources such as wood or pellet stoves if they are available.
5. Be careful with space heaters; heaters which tip over or are too close to combustible materials can be a serious fire hazard. Fuel powered heaters can produce carbon monoxide which can be life threatening.
6. Do not run generators indoors, they can produce carbon monoxide which can be life threatening.
7. DO NOT attempt to connect a small propane tank (e.g. such as used for outdoor grills) to your furnace-this is extremely unsafe.
Have a plan regarding where you can go if you have to leave your home due to lack of heat. If you must leave your home because you are unable to keep it heated you should try to winterize the home to protect it from damage caused by freezing pipes. Contact a winterization specialist or plumber for assistance in winterizing your home. WHEAP eligible residents may be able to receive financial assistance to pay for help with doing this, please contact the Clark County Department of Social Services.
If consumers have complaints regarding allegations of price gouging or disputes over contracts with their vendor they should contact the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) at 1-800-422-7128.
Clark County agencies including the Department of Social Services, Aging and Nutrition, UW Extension, Sheriff's Office, Health Department, Veterans Service Office along with Emergency Management continue to monitor the situation and come together to share information updates as well as plan for future actions which may need to be taken.
John M. Ross
ClarkCounty Emergency Management Director
Information regarding current propane situation