Door Co. propane users feeling pinch during shortage

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TOWN OF GARDNER – As the wind howls off of Green Bay, whipping snow against the Welch home, inside is much more agreeable — and warm.

“I think I have enough fuel to get me through,” said Kim Welch.

Welch and her husband Doug use liquid propane to heat their home. But propane is in short supply in Wisconsin due to the cold, a wet harvest season and pipeline issues.

Her supplier, Milton-based Milton Propane, delivered less than half of her order last week — even though she prepaid for a full tank.

“My point is, if you pre-bought this gas ahead of time, and this is how much I want, then where’s the gas now?” Welch questioned of Milton Propane’s service. “And if you bought it then, as a pre-buy price, why all of a sudden is it going to cost me $5-something a gallon to have it delivered?”

FOX 11 reached out to Milton Propane and didn’t hear back.

But in a letter to customers on the company’s website, President John Arndt explained the company has to take drastic measures, one of them being filling accounts to forty percent.

The propane shortage has prompted a state of emergency. Extra money has been made available for those in need using propane to heat their homes and businesses, with $24,000 going to Door County.

“We serve about 1,200 clients a year; 20 percent is all propane users,” explained Gina Wautier, an emergency assistance manager with We Are HOPE, Inc., an energy assistance group contracted by Door County.

“But with the prices of propane doubling, we’re seeing a lot of those same clients coming back, asking for more crisis help.”

Wautier says those in need of emergency energy assistance need to be patient.

“We also have to get in touch with propane providers, and they’re not always delivering in a timely fashion.”

One of those providers is the Door County Cooperative, which serves about 2,500 customers. Its president Trent Allen didn’t want to go on camera with FOX 11, but says that the co-op is doing all it can to satisfy customers’ needs. But what Allen says is needed is warmer temperatures, as supplies aren’t likely to increase in the near future.

Governor Scott Walker is scheduled to hold a meeting on the crisis tomorrow.

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