Gov. Terry Branstad issued a disaster and energy emergency proclamation Friday due to the record high demand for propane in Iowa and throughout the upper Midwest.
The emergency proclamation activates the disaster response and recovery aspect of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department’s Iowa Emergency Response Plan.
Additionally, the Branstad administration launched the Propane Shortage and Heating Assistance Web page – a one-stop shop with information regarding low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP), reductions in regulatory burdens to propane transport, cost-saving tips, and other resources.
Friday’s action came one day after the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services released a second LIHEAP appropriation of $7,419,062 to the state of Iowa to help Iowa families heat their homes during the cold weather.
“We appreciate the collaboration of the federal government, Midwest Governors, and Texas officials on trying to resolve the propane shortage here in the Midwest,” Branstad said in a statement.
“We have had productive conversations with the U.S. Secretary of Energy, U.S. Secretary of the Department of Transportation, (Texas) Gov. Rick Perry, other governors, members of the propane industry and Iowans to do everything possible to resolve this propane issue.”
Average prices statewide for propane have climbed to near $5 a gallon in the last two weeks. While the average price slid 93 cents a gallon earlier this week, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship warned that the market remains volatile.
Harold Hommes of the Iowa Department of Agriculture said many propane suppliers were unable to replenish their inventory after farmers used a larger-than-normal amount of propane late in the year to dry corn before storing it. That demand, coupled with an earlier-than-usual set of cold snaps with below zero temperatures created a shortage in many part of the Midwest.