Help and hotline established for propane emergency
Gov. Mark Dayton declared a peacetime state of emergency in Minnesota in response to a severe shortage of propane and other home heating fuel supplies statewide.
Crow Wing County residents may call the Lutheran Social Services office in Brainerd to see if they qualify for energy assistance if needed. For more information, call 829-5000 or 800-829-5902.
The state Emergency Operations Center opened a public hotline to answer questions for Minnesotans with propane issues or questions. The hotline number is 800-657-3504. Minnesotans who have questions or are in danger of running out of heating fuel are advised to call the hotline. The hotline operates from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The governor also directed the Commissioner of Commerce Mike Rothman to use his consumer protection authority to help guard Minnesotans from potential price gouging activities and unlawful market manipulation. Consumers who believe they may have been the victim of price gouging are encouraged to contact the consumer help line at 800-657-3602.
Residents who need financial assistance to pay heating bills may qualify for help through the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The state Department of Commerce recently announced LIHEAP crisis payments would increase from $500 to $1,000 for applicants who heat their homes with propane and heating oil. Qualifying families must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area. A list of service providers is available online at http://mn.gov/commerce/energy/consumers/Heating-Assistance or by calling 800-657-3710.
The governor’s office reported Dayton met with propane industry officials to identify immediate steps to help resolve the propane supply and price issues. The meeting included the states agricultural Commissioner Dave Frederickson and Rothman along with state legislators. The governor joined Minnesota’s Congressional delegation in petitioning President Obama to knock down regulatory barriers, take additional steps to alleviate the shortage and provide expanded relief to families and agriculture producers.
The American Railway Association asked its 175 members to prioritize propane delivery by making cars available and dropping propane shipments at necessary locations. The U.S. Department of Transportation established a regional emergency declaration suspending regulatory provisions pertaining to hours of service for drivers of commercial motor vehicles transporting propane to affected Midwestern states.
The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s office, Division of Emergency Management and Crow Wing County Community Services are encouraging residents who use propane to: conserve energy as much as possible; check on family, friends and neighbors; be vigilant and check propane tanks; and to be safe if using alternative heat sources.
For more information go to https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/hsem/seoc/Pages/default.aspx.
Dayton and other Midwestern governors thanked Texas Gov. Rick Perry for granting and pledging to extend a wavier for trucking restriction, which increased the flow of propane to Minnesota and other states. The waiver was set to expire Feb. 5.