Emergency Heating Hearing 25 Feb 14

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — With Minnesota still in the throes of the coldest winter in 35 years, state lawmakers are seeking solutions for a propane shortage affecting residents who use the fuel for heating.

A House commerce committee was considering a proposal on Monday to put $20 million into a heating-assistance program for low-income Minnesotans. It could be fast-tracked when the Legislature convenes on Tuesday.

An estimated 250,000 Minnesota households use propane to heat their homes, mostly in rural areas.

Shortages have spiked propane prices. Minnesota Commerce spokeswoman Anne O’Connor says that the average cost of a gallon of propane has fallen to $3.27 a gallon. That’s down from a peak of $4.67 gallon at the end of January, but still much higher than the $1.63 average per gallon a year ago.