Propane Crisis Heats Up as Legislators Take Action
"[I believe] people are taking advantage of the people who need the fuel. I've had a lot of people whose income is very small, and $500 to fill a tank is a lot of money at this time. These are big questions people are asking: why did prices go from $1.36 to $6.10 a gallon?" Cavaletto asked.
The letter asks the governor to take four steps to help. They include allocating additional emergency funds for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP to assist Illinoisans in paying their propane or other heating bills. The letter also pushes for emergency low-interest loans/temporary lines of credit to propane distributors/suppliers to ensure they will have the resources necessary to purchase additional propane to alleviate shortages. The legislators also want a temporary suspension of the state tax on propane in order to provide some relief to families struggling to heat their homes. The fourth request is to urge the federal government to create a strategic reserve of LP/propane and moderate exports of the fuel while supplies remain critically low. A Senate bill has been introduced to address some of these concerns. State Senator Dale Righter hopes the bill will provide relief.
"It is a narrowly tailored remedy that builds a bridge between the crisis... and inevitable market adjustment" said Righter.
Lawmakers plan to take up the issue as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Social Service Agency BCMW Keith Brown says they still have funding available through the LIHEAP program for qualified low income residents. He reports they are getting more requests from propane users than normal and have requested to reallocate more of their LIHEAP money to assist those using propane. Energy assistance requests can be made at the BCMW office in your county. In Marion County, the office is at 909 East Rexford in Centralia. The phone number is 532-7388.
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