SPRINGFIELD (AP) — New legislation filed in the Illinois Senate is aimed at helping solve the state's propane shortage.
The measure, being sponsored by Republican state Sens. Sam McCann of Carlinville and Dale Righter of Mattoon, includes a series of spending and regulatory proposals, according a report (http://bit.ly/LnITVQ ) by the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers.
The measure would help low-income families buy propane by increasing the number of families that would be eligible for energy assistance. It also would create a $20 million short-term loan program that could help small businesses, propane distributors and farmers. The legislation would also lift weight restrictions on state roads for trucks that are carrying the fuel.
Wet fall weather and recent cold spells have combined to put a pinch on Illinois' propane supplies, causing distribution problems across the state.
"The result is individuals and families who are having to make very real decisions about whether they can heat their homes in the coming weeks and months ahead," Righter said.
Gov. Pat Quinn earlier this week declared a propane supply emergency across the state, which eased some regulations on propane truck drivers. The declaration means regulations will be eased on propane truck drivers so they can drive to other states and fill their tanks. Illinois also has lifted limits on how long truck drivers can work within 24 hours. This will let them travel farther to pick up propane.
If cold temperatures continue, people who use propane to heat their homes could experience some negative effects. Nationwide, the blast of winter weather is sapping fuel supplies. Propane users are hit hardest by the fuel shortages, some paying up to $100 to $200 more per fill-up.
The Illinois Propane Gas Association said about 40 percent of Illinois homes are heated by propane. Meanwhile in the U.S., the Energy Department says 5.5 million U.S. households heat with propane, mostly in the Midwest and South.
The bill is SB 2757.