Minn. Lawmakers Take Action on Propane Price Spike

Updated: 01/29/2014 7:24 AM
Created: 01/28/2014 7:44 PM
By: Tom Durian

Minnesota lawmakers say they are looking into the recent spike in propane prices. Propane is the only source of heat for more than 200,000 Minnesotans, and for many the price per gallon has more than doubled.

Average prices hovered around $2.44 a gallon for the week ending Jan. 20. This week’s prices, which include the spikes, have not been reported to the Department of Energy yet.

"There are a lot of senior citizens, and there's a lot of people in rural Minnesota that are suffering right now," Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said. "We're taking every action step so that we can help resolve the supply issues."

Rothman was among those, including propane suppliers, who met with Gov. Mark Dayton Tuesday to discuss the shortage and price hike. He says everything from pipeline issues to the higher use because of the cold weather and the exporting of the gas have led to the higher prices.

The Department of Commerce distributes low income heating assistance funding from the federal government and says this year has seen a huge demand. As of Jan. 27, 97,579 households in Minnesota have applied for and are receiving assistance. There are more than 30,000 more that have applied and are waiting to see if they are eligible. Those numbers are on par to pass the total number of households assisted for the entire year of 2013.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) is among a group of lawmakers that sent a letter to the Obama administration asking that the amount shipped overseas to places like China be reduced.

Locally, organizations like the Salvation Army have added money to their energy assistance funds because of the increased need.

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