Propane aid offered to those caught by high prices

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Frank Schultz
Thursday, January 30, 2014

JANESVILLE—Rock County residents don't have to go without heat because of the high cost of propane heating fuel, the Rock County Sheriff's Office said Thursday.

Officials have not heard from anyone who had to abandon a home because of having no heat, and they want to prevent that from happening, said Sgt. Shena Kohler of the sheriff's office.

“Propane prices have jumped from about $1 dollar a gallon to nearly $6 dollars a gallon during the last six weeks. There has never been such an increase in propane prices,” according to a news release from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority on Thursday.

Kohler said she has received a few calls from people having trouble paying for propane.

“I couldn't believe it when they said it, and I think of myself, there's no way. How can you even afford that?” Kohler said.

Kohler said she has heard that local propane suppliers can't keep up with the calls coming in.

Kohler urged residents not to wait to ask for help. Financial assistance being offered locally will pay for electric space heaters or for wood to burn in wood-burning stoves, as well as propane she said.

Income limits have been eased so that more people will qualify for assistance, Kohler said.

Kohler said propane deliveries are taking up to 10 days, so the state recommends people get their orders in when they are down to 30 percent in their tanks.

“Unfortunately, some people get down to 10 percent” or less, Kohler said.

“With these temperatures and the weather we've been having and will have in the next week or two, that's kind of risky,” Kohler said.

The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority's news release announced a $3 million loan-guarantee program for propane dealers.

“Propane dealers forced to pay much higher prices are confronted with a cash shortage and desperately need financing,” according to the news release.

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