Oskaloosa.com

CNHI/Southeast Iowa

January 24, 2014

Propane prices spike consumers, suppliers

(Continued)

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad praised the decision.

“After asking Texas officials yesterday for the waiver, I was pleased to learn of their quick action to assist Iowans and Midwest states with the shortage of propane,” said Branstad.

And Sen. Charles Grassley has asked the Federal Trade Commission to review the circumstances that have created the price spike.

“I request that the Federal Trade Commission remain vigilant in overseeing the propane market to prevent possible anti-competitive behavior or illegal manipulation, and to ensure that any supply shortages are not created artificially,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Edith Ramirez, who chairs the FTC.

Those remedies will not have an immediate impact, though. Prices continued to climb Thursday and Friday, putting people who need propane now in a very difficult position.

“There’s a gap between what people can pay and what the household is going to need,” McKim said.

Dick said communication is critical for propane customers in this situation.

“We’re getting enough gas, but we’re having to jump through hoops to get it. We’ve been communicating a lot with customers. I was on the phone until bedtime last night [Thursday],” he said. “We certainly don’t want people to run out.”

Communication about what customers need and what they can pay could help lead to payment structures and other ways of keeping homes heated, Dick said. But that’s not possible unless the suppliers know about the customer’s situation.

“We’re all in this together,” he said, “and we’ll get through it together.”

 

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