Signs the Propane Industry Crisis Easing - WBAY

Signs the Propane Industry Crisis Easing

Marinette County -

There are signs the propane industry crisis is easing. But they're still not enough to get it out of the emergency state it's been in for the last two months. Experts explain what needs to happen for it to return to normal.

"It's certainly still a crisis. We're still seeing a shortage," says Marinette County Emergency Management Director Eric Burmeister. But he says the propane situation has greatly improved.

A vendor, who is the area's largest supplier of propane, has received fuel and is delivering again.

Plus, at the height of the crisis, Burmeister's office combined with Energy Assistance received more than 200 calls a day, mostly with concerns about not getting propane. The number is now back to its normal amount at about 40-50 calls a day.

Some say unlike before, they can now get gas, but it's not yet from their contracted vendors, and at a steep price.

Barb Elias of the Village of Wausaukee says her dealer has promised a refill for two weeks, but there's been no delivery.

She turned to another dealer, who sold her the much-needed gas for $6.50 a gallon, almost six times what she was paying, which was $1.39 a gallon.

Elias says "200 gallons was $1,295." Typically, the same amount would cost her $290.  

She's one of 104 people who filed a complaint with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The Wisconsin Propane Gas Association says there two things that will get us through this shortage. One, a greater supply. And two, warmer weather.

The Association says Governor Scott Walker's release of $8.5 million dollars to get propane to low-income families was a start. An announcement this week is also in the right direction.

"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission put an order out to Enterprise, which is a supplier, that told it to prioritize shipments of propane to the midwest and the northeast so that will result in about 500,000 barrels of propane coming in to those two areas in the country," says Managing Director Brandon Scholz. He did know how much would make it to Wisconsin and at what price it would be available.

As for warmer weather? February was forecasted to be colder than average and many customers typically heat their homes through March.

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