ST. PAUL, MINN. – One of the most brutally cold winters in decades has been worsened by a needless propane shortage caused by a ‘perfect storm’ of factors. Propane costs have risen from $1.55 per gallon wholesale last fall to almost $5 per gallon, with most of the increase coming recently. The shortage has made an already tough winter, that much harder.
“Not even the laws of supply and demand can explain a 500% increase in the price of propane. This problem needs to be fixed and we need to find solutions before people find it impossible to heat their homes or worse yet pipes break or people are injured,” said Senator David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm).
Governor Dayton and the Commerce Department have already taken steps to provide relief for Minnesotans – particularly those hardest hit in rural areas. Additionally, Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is actively monitoring propane suppliers to ensure that Minnesotans do not become victims of price gouging.
Senator Tomassoni urges those experiencing propane shortages to call the State Emergency Operations Center’s (SEOC) public propane hotline (1-800-657-3504) for help. This hotline operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The hotline connects callers with resources in their home county and can provide other information as well.
There is also help available through the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which helps low income households with their heating bills. The Obama Administration announced it will release an additional $15.8 million in LIHEAP funds to help families heat their homes. This amounts to an increase in payments from $500 to $1,000. Commissioner Rothman says for applicants heating their homes with propane and heating oil, payments could be available as early as this week.
Information about applying for the LIHEAP program is available online at: http://mn.gov/commerce/energy/consumers/Heating-Assistance/ or by calling 1-800-657-3710.
“Please don’t hesitate to ask for help during this heating shortage. State and federal organizations are working as quickly as possible to quell this shortage, in the meantime there is help available,” said Senator Tomassoni.
Other forms of assistance may be available through county social service programs, community-based organizations, and nonprofit agencies. See the Stay Warm Minnesota webpage for a list of resources. You can also contact the following counties for help.
St. Louis County
Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency
218-749-2912 or 1-800-662-5711
702 S. 3rd Ave.
Virginia, MN 55792
Kootasca County Action, Inc.
218-999-0800 or 877-687-1163
201 NW 4th St. #130
Grand Rapids, MN 55744