MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Due to the ongoing propane shortage impacting Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker has declared a State of Emergency.
The move comes ahead of dangerously cold temperatures moving into the Badger State, and directs all state agencies to be on alert and ready to assist when needed.
“The health and safety of our citizens is our number one priority, and this declaration gives us the necessary resources to protect the residents of Wisconsin,” Governor Walker said in a statement. “Since last fall, we have taken action to help alleviate the impact the propane shortage is having on our state. I will do everything I can within my power to help our friends and loved ones relying on propane to heat their homes or businesses during this challenging situation.”
About 250,000 people use propane to heat their homes and businesses in Wisconsin.
Here's a list of some of the measures instituted by the Walker administration:
- On January 24, 2014, Governor Walker directed the Department of Administration’s Division of Energy Services to release $1.5 million in additional Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Crisis Benefit dollars to the 49 counties/tribes that have a high percentage of propane households.
- The Department of Administration’s Division of Energy Services has contacted approximately 23,000 low-income propane customers recommending that they contact their propane vendor when their tank reaches 30% full to ensure they continue to have heating fuel and provided information on assistance available through the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP).
- The Department of Administration’s Division of Energy Services issued information to all of the local/partner contacts for WHEAP that outlines the benefits available to customers, including the availability of Crisis Benefit dollars to pay for lodging or temporary shelters.
- Wisconsin Emergency Management has contacted local emergency management directors to monitor warming sites and shelter availability.
- The Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund (KWWF) has agreed to temporarily allow an increase in their income limit for propane households from 60% of State Median Income (SMI) to 80% SMI, and will allow propane households to potentially receive an increased maximum benefit of $600 and has temporarily adjusted their policy to allow propane households the ability to potentially receive two benefit payments in a year.
The governor's office is also offering tips to remain safe:
- Call the non-emergency number of your local sheriff’s department if you need the location of a local warming shelter or other local resources. As always, call 911 for an emergency.
- Check on friends, neighbors. and loved ones to ensure everyone has a warm place to stay.
- Call toll-free1-866-HEATWIS (432-8947) for information about where you can purchase propane in your area, or to apply for assistance towards your propane heating bill. You can also visit www.homeenergyplus.wi.gov about where to apply for heating assistance through the WHEAP program. Your local agency will determine eligibility for heating benefits based upon your household income, size, and the home’s heating costs. If you are eligible, the WHEAP program will make a payment directly to your fuel supplier towards the cost of your propane. These benefits are available through May 15, 2014. Your local agency will also determine if you are eligible for Crisis Benefits.
- If you go to a local warming shelter, turn off the water in your home and drain your pipes to ensure they pipes do not freeze in your absence. If you are hesitant to use a shelter because you are afraid to leave a pet behind, please call your local warming shelter/human services agency as many warming shelters also offer pet shelter when an individual or family utilizes the shelter.
- Please donate to the Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund (KWWF) to help those impacted by the crisis. Credit card donations accepted: