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January 31, 2014

State, federal officials jump into propane shortage

The propane shortage in the Midwest and along the East Coast is drawing calls for action from both Indiana's congressional delegation and from state leaders.

An extended cold snap, coupled with some of the lowest stockpiles of the fuel in 20 years have combined to leave propane dealers scrambling for supplies and customers conserving and cutting corners. For the third time, Governor Mike Pence has waived transport rules. The move now allows the Indiana Department of Revenue to expedite permit applications and waive any fees for overweight and oversize loads for propane suppliers. The rules will now stay in place through March 31.

"Hoosier homeowners, businesses and the farming community are facing propane shortages and unrelenting temperatures, and the State continues to exhaust all possible options to alleviate the impact of this crisis," said Pence. "As in the past, the compassionate nature of Hoosiers is evident, and I urge all to be mindful of their propane usage, and I ask those who might have a surplus to help their neighbors in need."

The governor's call mirrors one issued earlier in the week by the Indiana Farm Bureau. The organization encouraged grain farmers with surplus propane to contact neighbors with livestock operations to see if they need additional fuel.

Hoosiers who may have a surplus are being asked to contact their local supplier about getting the fuel back into the chain.

State officials estimate ten percent of Indiana residents heat their homes with propane. Because Daviess County has a large Amish population the numbers are estimated to be even higher. Daviess County officials say they are scheduled to be briefed by state leaders soon on the propane issue.

The state has also released $5 million to the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority's Low Income Energy Assistance program. The action raises the amount of crisis benefits for low income Hoosiers from $400 to $500 through the end of March. "We are increasing energy assistance dollars available to low income Hoosiers facing escalating propane use," said Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann.

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