In recent weeks, many Nebraskans have been affected by shortages in the availability and delivery of propane. Unfortunately, propane supply and distribution challenges have come during the season of highest demand, and just as the Midwest and most of the United States have been experiencing record low temperatures.
Though emergency declarations by the U.S. Department of Transportation have helped provide much-needed regulatory relief to support increased delivery of propane to affected areas, it is clear the market remains constrained. I strongly encourage Nebraskans to keep in mind the following safety measures, guidelines, and resources during ongoing shortages:
- Keep in touch with your propane supplier about supply and price to help plan on how to stretch current supply, and closely monitor your propane tank to allow your supplier plenty of time to refill.
- Do not wait until you are nearly out of propane to call for more fuel.
- Check on your neighbors and elderly or sick people, especially individuals who live alone or in isolated areas.
- Conserve propane supplies by reducing the use of furnaces and hot water heaters.
- Turn thermostats down and limit time spent using the oven or stove to conserve propane.
- Close vents and/or doors to rooms or buildings that do not need to be heated.
- Do not use propane alternatives, such as the propane cylinders used for grills, as substitutes for propane supplies, as this is extremely unsafe.
- Open curtains and blinds during the day to let in the sun and close them at night to keep the cold out.
- Run ceiling fans in reverse to push warm air to the floor.
- Utilize alternative heat sources; use caution with space heaters.
For Nebraskans needing financial assistance, the Nebraska Low Income Energy Assistance Program assists those with limited income to offset heating expenses by partially paying for propane or other fuel source costs. For help, contact the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-383-4278, or visit their website at http://dhhs.ne.gov/children_family_services/Pages/fia_energy.aspx.
Emergency charitable assistance programs are also available through certain Nebraska utilities, such as Aquila (Heatshare and Heat Aid Fund), Black Hills Energy (Heatshare), Metropolitan Utilities District (Heat Aid Fund), and Nebraska Public Power District (Pennies for Power). Nebraskans can check with their local utilities for similar programs, which may be available.
If you wish to contact my office regarding this matter, you can do so by filling out the online contact form available HERE, or by calling any one of my offices in Washington, D.C., or Nebraska.