Senate Committee To Study Propane Price Spike

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Senate Utilities Committee will take a look at the recent propane price spike.

Chairman Pat Apple, R-Louisburg, said Friday that he has set an informational hearing for Monday, February 3. Apple says he has invited representatives from the propane industry to share insights into the issues they're facing that led to a significant price increase in the past week. He said retailers and the Kansas Propane Marketers Association have said they will participate. He said the Kansas Corporation Commission also will provide some information.

Consumers have reported that their cost for propane jumped from around $1.30 a gallon last fall to upward of $4.50 a gallon this week for some people. Industry representatives have blamed increased demand during recent cold weather in addition to higher demand last fall to dry a wetter-than-normal corn crop.

On Wednesday, Gov. Sam Brownback announced temporary measures he hope will provide relief to people who rely on propane.

“For those Kansans who rely on propane, particularly in our rural areas, a propane shortage and rising costs can put them at risk during cold weather,” Brownback said. “While Kansas has been spared the worst of the cold weather, we must ensure they have continued access to propane at reasonable cost. This is an issue of safety and well-being for our citizens.”

He ordered the Dept. of Children and Families (DCF) to give priority status to Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) applications from people who use propane to heat their homes, even if their accounts are delinquent. He's also ordered DCF to reach out to low income families to make sure they know these programs are available.

He also has issued two executive orders to exempt truckers from certain hours of operation to ensure propane trucks are moving. They will run through February 14, 2014.