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Lawmakers, Officials Discuss Propane Issues
JOHNSON COUNTY (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- Concerns about propane gas supply and price increases prompted a meeting Friday morning among area Legislators, County officials, and human services organizations.
State Representative Sally Stutsman, D-Riverside, told participants, "I asked for this meeting because we've been hearing concerns about propane shortages and prices, and I'm concerned about the residents of Johnson County. I wanted to get people together so we can be proactive, get in front of these issues and let Johnson County residents know about the resources available to them."
In addition to Stutsman, State Representatives David Jacoby, D-Coralville, Vicki Lensing, D-Iowa City and Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, joined Johnson County Emergency Management Coordinator Dave Wilson, Supervisor Janelle Rettig, Auditor Travis Weipert, Social Services Coordinator Lynette Jacoby, Emergency Management Commission Chair Louise From, Crisis Center of Johnson County Executive Director Becci Reedus, and United Way of Johnson County Vice President of Community Impact and Engagement Patty Fields.
The unusually cold winter has created an increased demand for propane. As a result, propane prices have skyrocketed. Lynette Jacoby, Johnson County Social Services Coordinator, said that resource information for those in need of financial assistance to pay for heating costs would be made available on her department's webpage at www.johnson-county.com. (Click on the "Departments" drop-down menu, then "Social Services/General Assistance." Information will be available in the "News" section in the upper right of that page.)
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP, provides a subsidy for heating costs for Iowans earning less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level - about $35,000 for a family of four. Johnson County residents can contact LIHEAP at 319-337-5765.
Jacoby also noted that residents can contact Johnson County General Assistance at 319-356-6090 or Crisis Center of Johnson County at 319-351-0128 to learn more about their assistance programs.
Dave Wilson, Johnson County Emergency Management Coordinator, reminded people to keep safety in mind when heating their homes and businesses or attempting to warm pipes. "Structure fires are a real danger when people try to use alternate heating sources in cold weather," Wilson explained. "Heating a home only with space heaters or even using an oven as a heat source can be very risky. We want people to be safe, and encourage residents to seek information and resources that can help."
Wilson also noted some recommendations from the Iowa Propane Gas Association http://(www.iapropane.org) that can assist with lowering heating costs and address safety:
1. Turn down your thermostat 5-10 degrees;
2. If you have a propane hot water heater, reduce hot water usage;
3. Do not heat any rooms or buildings that do not have to be heated;
4. Reduce stove use if you have a propane stove;
5. Do not use small propane tanks from an outdoor grill inside your home for any reason;
6. Do not try to hook your grill propane tank to your home heating tank. It is unsafe and illegal; and
7. Keep a clear path to your propane tank.
Residents concerned about propane gas prices or contracts may contact the Iowa Attorney General Consumer Protection Division at 888-777-4590. Questions and comments can be emailed to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your full name, mailing address, and telephone number. The division's mailing address is 1305 E. Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA 50319.
At the Consumer Protection Division's website (http://www.iowaattorneygeneral.org/file_complaint/index.html)
individuals can file a consumer complaint online, read or download consumer brochures, review consumer protection laws, and link to other helpful consumer sites. The division protects consumers from fraud, ensures fair competition in the marketplace and enforces a number of laws that protect the buying public from false or misleading advertisements or sales practices.