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Winter weather causing propane problem

The cold weather has propane in high demand all across Illinois, and suppliers are having a difficult time keeping up for homeowners and businesses that use this fuel for heating.

Gov. Pat Quinn has declared a shortage in Illinois a State of Energy emergency. Homeowners and business are struggling to warm their homes during these cold, winter months.

The shortage can be connected to a convergence of events. A few of the factors include a Midwest region pipeline being shut down for maintenance, a high demand for propane last fall to dry a rain-soaked harvest of corn and the extreme cold.

The Cochin pipeline was shut down for a minimum of three weeks as part of the pipeline reversal project. The change was made to modify the Cochin pipeline to move light condensate westbound from a new terminal in Kankakee County, according to LP Gas.

Seven states, including Illinois, are supported for propane supplies from this pipeline. Sixteen states in total have made similar propane shortage declarations this winter.

The other dynamic of this situation was agriculture. Farmers had to use more propane than usual this fall to dry the late harvest of grain that came out of the fields too wet.

Households who were not supported by natural gas had to dip into propane supplies earlier than normal due to the frigid temperatures.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 5.5 million households in the U.S. use propane, mostly in the Midwest region. Concurrently, 35 to 40 percent of Illinois homes are heated by propane according to the Illinois Petroleum Gas Association.

Prices have jumped from around $1.50 per gallon in the summer to over $5.50 per gallon in some places at the current time, according to Capitol Fax.

As a solution to this dilemma, new legislation was proposed in the Illinois Senate to curb the problem Illinois faces with propane supply. The legislation was devised by Republican state Sen. Sam McCann and Sen. Dale Righter

The new regulation allowed Gov. Quinn to offer aid to low-income households struggling to heat their homes. As part of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), it would allow for suppliers to qualify for low-interest loans to reduce the carrying costs of purchases.

Gov. Quinn will give an additional $1,000 credit for each household taking part in the program which aids low-income residents with energy bills.

Furthermore, the regulation would lift the 80,000 pound weight restrictions on state roads for trucks that are carrying the fuel. This will allow for more shipments and delivery of propane to residents.

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