MADISON, Wis. (RELEASE FROM OFFICE OF GOV. WALKER)-- Governor Scott Walker declared a ten-day energy emergency in response to the continuing cold temperatures and the ongoing demand for propane. The declaration allows propane delivery vehicles to exceed special weight limits in Wisconsin related to propane transportation, particularly for the limits imposed on the state's local roads during the spring thaw.
“The health and safety of our citizens is our number one priority, and this step allows the efficient transportation of fuel to the areas most in need,” Governor Walker said. “Since last fall, we have been working to help lessen the burden of the propane shortage on Wisconsin. We know the burden isn’t over for our friends and loved ones who rely on propane to heat their homes and businesses during this long heating season.”
With the continuing cold temperatures and burden of propane costs over the winter, some propane tanks are at very low levels, and the demand for delivery remains high. Weight limit restrictions on some roads prevent propane delivery vehicles from accessing residences, which results in risks to the health, welfare, and economic well-being of residential customers and other end users who rely on propane heating systems. By declaring an energy emergency, propane delivery vehicles can exceed local weight limits during this ten-day period.
Governor Walker and his administration have taken numerous steps to help alleviate the effects the shortage is having on the 250,000 residents who use propane to heat their home or business including:
• Governor Walker has issued multiple Executive Orders since October 25, 2013, allowing propane transport drivers to log additional hours to transport more propane. Typically, a propane driver can drive 70 hours per week based upon Wisconsin and federal laws. Several state petroleum terminals have not been able to meet the demands of their customers and are currently on a propane rationing system. The increased demand and limited regional supplies of propane means drivers are working more hours per day to obtain propane, causing drivers to reach maximum weekly driving and on-duty limits more quickly than normal. Carriers continue to remain responsible for ensuring they operate safely.
• On January 3, 2014, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Department of Administration authorized a weight limit relief order for vehicles transporting energy in the state in order to increase the amount of propane carried in a single trip.
• At the request of Wisconsin and other Midwestern states, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a Midwest regional declaration of emergency on January 19, 2014, extending state emergency declarations for purposes of exempting hours of service requirements for propane and fuel transporters.
• Governor Walker issued a public service announcement on January 23, 2014, providing Wisconsin citizens with information about the current propane shortage in Wisconsin and asking their help in looking out for residents who are being impacted.
• On January 29, 2014, Governor Walker wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking for the immediate release of the remaining Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2014 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) allocations. On Thursday, January 30, the federal government released the funds requested by Governor Walker. The federal Department of Health and Human Services released the remaining FFY 2014 LIHEAP funding and yesterday, the State of Wisconsin received the remaining $14.2 million dollars of the total $103.1 million FFY 2014 allocation. Given the propane shortage that is deeply affecting Wisconsin residents, the Department of Administration preemptively released $7 million of the $14.2 million allocation to Wisconsin counties and tribes who administer the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP).