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Governor Offering Assistance For Propane

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Record low temperatures in the Midwest and eastern part of the country cause more and more people to increase their use of propane to heat their homes, leading to a national shortage.

Now, Governor Steve Bullock is offering some additional help for those who can't afford to heat their homes.

The cold blast covering much of the country means folks are using their furnaces a lot more.

Turning up the heat has led to a nationwide shortage of propane, driving up the cost nationwide.

With 13 percent of Montana's homes heated by propane, HRDC energy programs director Caren Couch said it is hard for many people to pay to heat their homes.

"This increase in propane has made it very hard for them to be able to fill their tanks to keep their furnaces and hot water heaters running," said Couch.

Here in Montana, the price for a gallon of propane ranges from about $2.80 to $3.99, which is about twice as much as this time last year.

With the temperatures going down and the price of propane going up, Governor Steve Bullock said it is time to help those in need.

"Now we are having that cold weather lets address the problem in Montana, both by trying to help out where we can with some of our moderate and low-income families working families," said Bullock.

Bullock is authorizing a one-time 25 percent increase in benefits for folks in the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP).

This means households in the program will get about $221 to help fill their propane tanks.

Couch said this will help many families.

"That will go a long way towards helping them get a little more propane since it's been so cold this winter," said Couch.

Bullock is also creating an energy monitoring plan, led by the Department Of Environmental Quality Energy Assurance Team.

They will monitor the state's price and propane supply.

"Reaching out to our federal partners to say let's actually address some of the issues around supply making sure that people are not being taken advantage of and making sure that the rules are easy enough so we can get propane in and out of Montana," said Bullock.

The governor is also suspending "Hours of Service" regulations to commercial drivers who haul propane so people can get their propane faster.

Senator Jon Tester and 14 other senators are asking the Obama Administration to also provide more funding to LIEAP.

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