The 10 percent of Minnesotans who heat with propane — as well as farmers, businesses and others that use it — felt to crunch to the tune of $70 million more they had to pay than a year before.
Others in the Midwest, where propane is most used, also felt the financial pain. Michigan residents’ bills went up $71 million, Iowans’ $64 million, Wisconsinites’ $44 million, North Dakotans’ $32 million and South Dakotans’ $17 million.
The figures come from a report U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., released in her capacity as vice chairwoman of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.
“My report confirms what so many Minnesota families and businesses felt firsthand last winter: The propane shortage had significant financial consequences,” Klobuchar said. “Minnesotans rely heavily on propane to keep warm during the brutally cold winter months. That’s why I worked with Sen. John Thune (of South Dakota) to pass bipartisan legislation to help address future shortages, and I will continue to work to make sure this vital energy source is readily available for consumers.”
Last winter’s propane shortage was brought on by a variety of factors. Users noticed a price that in some cases quadrupled.
Minnesota officials are optimistic that such a shortage and price spike will not happen this winter, but a task force that has met several times since spring is making preparations, just in case.
On the federal level, Klobuchar and her colleagues passed legislation to give governors more authority during a propane emergency and required the Energy Information Administration to provide early warnings if it appears propane could be in short supply.
Another Klobuchar bill streamlines transportation to communities affected by a shortage.