* Rob, my farmer friend I’ve told you about before, said over the weekend that the propane price situation is getting pretty darned scary. Let’s hope this move by Gov. Pat Quinn to declare an energy emergency helps…
As the latest blast of frigid air hung over much of Illinois, the governor’s declaration is designed to ease weather-induced distribution problems that have left some industry observers worried that homeowners could run out of the fuel during an upcoming cold snap.
The declaration eases regulations on propane truck drivers in order to allow them to drive into other states to fill their tanks.
For example, an Illinois driver heading to Texas would be able to cross into the state for propane even if they didn’t have proper licenses, said Quinn spokesman Dave Blanchette.
(T)his was done because, due to the current propane shortage, additional drivers are needed to travel to Texas to haul propane back to Illinois,” Blanchette said.
In addition, state officials also have lifted limits on how long truckers can operate within a 24 period, in order to allow them to travel further distances to pick up loads.
The shortage, industry officials say, is due to a confluence of events: a Midwest pipeline being shut down for maintenance, a high demand for propane last fall to dry a rain-soaked harvest of corn, competition for pipelines and rail cars caused by increased oil and natural gas production — and the extreme cold.
“I prefer not to call it a shortage,” said Simon Bowman, a spokesman for Pennsylvania-based AmeriGas, the nation’s largest propane retailer. “I prefer to call it tight supply.
“There is propane to be had, but it’s just having problems getting to some of the areas of the Midwest and Northeast,” he added.
* Sen. McCann called for an energy emergency declaration late Friday afternoon…
State Senator Sam McCann (R-Carlinville) hand delivered a letter to Governor Pat Quinn Friday calling on the Governor to declare a State of Energy Emergency in Illinois.
Sixteen states have made similar declarations in recent weeks as prices for LP gas, like propane, have skyrocketed and supplies have dwindled to dangerous levels.
According to the Illinois Petroleum Gas Association, 35-40% of homes in Illinois are heated by propane gas. High demand during harvest and frigid winter temperatures have depleted supplies of gas throughout the Midwest. Prices have also skyrocketed from around $1.50 per gallon in the summer to over $5.50 per gallon in some places currently.
“Thousands of Illinoisans are struggling to heat their homes, and many business owners and livestock producers don’t know whether they will be able to access or afford necessary supplies of propane,” said Senator McCann. “It is my hope the Governor will join numerous other states from across the country in helping ease the burden and cost on many families and businesses in our state.”
If Governor Quinn declares an emergency, he may temporarily lift the 80,000-pound weight limit on Illinois interstate highways, to allow more gas to be shipped in. He could also provide increased assistance to low and moderate income persons through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and would allow suppliers to qualify for low-interest loans to reduce the carrying costs of purchases.
The Illinois Petroleum Gas Association says no such declaration has ever been made in Illinois, but that the state is experiencing historical cold and demand for the product.