Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rising propane prices hit rural Upper Midwest hard

One of the coldest winters in years in the Upper Midwest has been especially trying for rural residents who don't have natural-gas service and depend on propane and other "deliverable fuels" to heat their homes. The price of propane has "gone up about 35 percent since last year, nearing $2 per gallon," and that means some residents cannot afford to make the upfront payments required by suppliers, reports The Associated Press.

Moratorium protection forces large utilities to keep supplying customers even if a customer misses a payment during winter months, but those laws don't apply to propane users who might not be able to pay the $500 cost for delivery of a 250-gallon tank of propane. The Northeast Iowa Community Action Corp. "distributes federal heating assistance funds to about 4,000 people in seven largely rural counties, with about a third relying on propane, oil and wood," AP reports. The group, however, said there is about 45 less money for propane subsidies this year and that the average energy assistance benefit of $400 will do little for many propane users. (Read more)

For information on propane and its prices, from the federal Energy Information Administration, click here.

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