Gov. Walker addresses state's propane shortage Monday

MADISON (WITI) -- Wisconsin's propane shortage is worsening as the bitter cold settles in this week -- again. 250,000 people across the state of Wisconsin use propane to heat their homes, and Gov. Walker has issued a State of Emergency due to the propane shortage. Those that use propane are now paying some three times more than normal! On Monday, January 27th, Gov. Walker met with representatives from the propane industry and state leaders -- calling this "a serious situation."

After meeting Monday with representatives from the propane industry and state government officials, Governor Scott Walker instructed the Department of Administration’s Division of Energy Services to release an additional $7 million in energy assistance benefits, for a total of $8.5 million in additional funds, to help support low-income Wisconsin residents who use propane to heat their homes.   The Governor also directed the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to move forward with a combined $8 million in loan guarantee programs to help ensure propane dealers are able to obtain propane on the wholesale market and deliver it to consumers.

“I met with state and industry leaders to determine if there are additional steps we can take to manage through the current crisis and help protect our citizens who rely on propane for heat,” Governor Walker said.  “While we cannot produce more propane ourselves, I have directed additional funds be made available to help our most vulnerable citizens pay for the fuel they need and ensure propane dealers are able to obtain and deliver the supply we do have.”

Following the meeting, the Governor has:

        On January 25, Governor Walker declared a State of Emergency in response to the propane shortage that is impacting Wisconsin in advance of the extremely dangerous temperatures that are expected to move across Wisconsin in the week ahead.  The declaration puts all state agencies on alert to be prepared to assist as needed in response to the cold weather snap and propane shortage.

        The supply shortage in the upper Midwest has caused delivery delays and reduced delivery amounts for propane customers in Wisconsin, as well as all Midwestern states.  The propane shortage has been caused by:

          "Our focus right now is ensuring we keep all Wisconsin residents safe during this time,” said Governor Walker.  “And while abnormal weather was a major factor in this current crisis, we also must take steps to ensure we do not face this situation again in the future.”

          The Governor outlined the following series of actions:

            The Governor also urged state legislators to pass AB596.  Included in this bill is a provision that would allow the Public Service Commission, under certain circumstances, to make it easier for a gas utility to enter into an adjacent service territory to offer natural gas service to new customers.  This would make it easier for some customers to access natural gas, instead of, or in addition to, propane.

            Gov. Walker says should the situation worsen further, the National Guard could be called up to assist with warming center and door-to-door checks.

            Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin wrote a letter to President Obama, asking him to scale back propane exports.

            CLICK HERE to read that letter.