- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A propane shortage brought on in part by heavy demand during an abnormally cold winter has prompted nearly 300 complaints about high prices to the Michigan attorney general’s office, officials said.

Joy Yearout, spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, said the office received 205 phone complaints and 91 written complaints since Jan. 22. Most of the complaints allege price-gouging by propane providers, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/1btOV0P ).

“Each complaint is being reviewed in accordance with our procedures,” Yearout said.

The attorney general’s office is encouraging consumers who suspect gouging to keep receipts and other proof of payment.

Michigan is among many states that have declared propane energy emergencies as supplies dropped last month. Propane prices are now 72 percent higher than a year ago, said Judy Palnau, spokeswoman for the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Lawmakers have been getting complaints about propane prices, which approached $5 a gallon in parts of the Upper Peninsula last week. The statewide average is now at $3.61 a gallon, a 37 percent price rise in one week.

Gov. Rick Snyder and six other governors wrote to President Barack Obama in a letter dated Tuesday asking for help in addressing the propane shortage and price increases. They want the administration to help increase propane supplies through “every means of transport.”

They encouraged Obama to consider regulatory waivers aimed at increasing supplies and hoped the Small Business Administration would ease loan requirements to help communities respond to the shortage. The letter also said they wanted to explore actions to improve supply stability in future years.

Problems that created the shortfall include heavy demand caused by the cold weather and a late harvest that required propane for drying grain, as well as transportation issues such as icy roads, heavy snowfall, rail line problems and pipeline maintenance.





Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, https://www.record-eagle.com



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