If you pay the propane man to heat the house you probably felt the pain that came with the price per gallon. While Glasgow isn’t feeling the pinch as much as other communities, the community is still seeing prices close to 30 percent higher.
Currently Agland in Nashua and Ezzie’s West End are charging about $2.95 a gallon, compared to $1.85 last year. Prices have skyrocketed all over the state of Montana, with Culbertson and other towns paying around $5 a gallon, or more. The cold temperatures that have been felt all over the nation this winter have brought the demand above the supply and households who rely on propane to heat their homes are suffering.
Gov. Steve Bullock announced last week that he is taking steps in Montana to help with the spikes in prices caused by the shortage in propane. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released $450 million nationwide to states that are looking for relief. Montana received around $1.5 million to help relieve some of the budget pressure.
Bullock authorized a one-time 25 percent increase in benefits for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) for households whose primary heating fuel is propane. It adds up to about an average additional benefit of $221 for filling propane tanks. Current LIEAP recipients do not need to do anything to receive the additional benefit, it will be applied to their accounts sometime this week.
“The steps we’re taking today will help to alleviate the impact of high propane prices, identify future propane shortages before they happen and make it easier for propane deliveries to quickly get to the market,” Bullock said in a press release.
He has also ordered the creation of an energy monitoring plan to help monitor the price and supply of propane throughout the state. He signed an executive order temporarily suspending the hours of service regulations related to drivers of commercial motor vehicles transporting propane, ensuring that travel restrictions for propane distribution are not resulting in delays for heat sources to families.
Bullock sent a letter to President Obama requesting he take further steps to prevent more impacts from the shortage. The letter asked to coordinate with transportation of propane to areas it’s needed the most, to investigate market forces and ensure sufficient domestic supply, ask the Federal Trade Commission to monitor and prevent illegal manipulation of prices and continue the exemption of hours of service regulation for the transportation of propane through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Residents are being encouraged to fill their propane tanks before they are less than 30 percent full to deal with the potential delivery times. Checking on neighbors, seniors family and friends who have limited incomes is also being encouraged.
Montana residents who need assistance with their propane costs can apply to LIEAP by calling their local HRDC or tribal energy assistance office, or go online at http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/programservices/energyassistance/. Those who do not qualify for LIEAP may qualify for assistance through Energy Share Montana. Those looking for more information can call 1-888-779-7589.