Gov. Jack Dalrymple today said the state is taking several steps to assist North Dakota residents and businesses that rely on propane for heat.
Officials with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services (DES) remain in regular contact with county emergency managers to monitor the impact of recent propane supply shortages and high prices and to assist any homeowners who may become unable to maintain a propane supply. Any resident unable to maintain a supply of heating fuel is encouraged to contact their county emergency manager's office or the DES.
On January 30, Dalrymple spoke by conference call with governors and other state officials in South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana and other states to discuss regional propane supplies and to expedite the over-the-road shipment of propane throughout the Midwest and central United States. The governor's office also remains in regular contact with regional propane suppliers to closely monitor propane's availability and price.
"We will continue working to get more propane into the local supply chain and to help North Dakota residents get the assistance they need," Dalrymple said. "Industry leaders are reporting that supplies in North Dakota should be improving."
On January 7, Dalrymple declared a statewide emergency due to short fuel supplies, including propane used for heating. In the declaration, Dalrymple waived hours of service for drivers of commercial vehicles who transport needed fuel, including propane. Because of the shortage, haulers have had to wait longer to load at terminals and have had to drive farther to obtain propane. The declaration has helped to expedite the delivery of needed propane and No. 1 diesel fuel by giving commercial drivers additional time to load, transport and deliver fuel.
The governor's office also is in regular contact with regional propane suppliers to closely monitor the local supply and price of propane. In an effort to find a long-term solution to propane shortages, Dalrymple is encouraging representatives of the state's energy industry to expand production of the fuel at natural gas plants. By expanding local production, we can develop a more abundant and reliable source of propane.
Through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the North Dakota Department of Human Services is providing funding assistance to help qualified residents pay for home heating costs. The program could be particularly valuable to qualified residents this winter due to recent spikes in the cost of propane. LIHEAP also provides other assistance, including funds to help pay for repairs or the replacement of a furnace.
Residents with incomes of 60 percent of the state's median income or less are eligible for the assistance. Qualifying income varies by household size. Residents eligible for LIHEAP will pay between 1 percent and 3 percent of the monthly cost for heating, with the program picking up the remaining cost. The percentage is based on household annual income. North Dakota does not cap monthly LIHEAP benefits.
North Dakotans who need help paying heating costs can apply now through May at their local county social service office or call the State LIHEAP office at 1-800-755-2716.