News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

February 5, 2014

State AG offers help to Hoosiers facing critical propane shortage

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced today, Feb. 5, that his office will assist consumers who face critically low propane levels and experience supplier issues - especially as temperatures continue to drop.

Consumers whose propane tank’s supply is at 10 percent or less and have trouble contacting their supplier, or cannot find an alternative supplier, should contact the attorney general’s office by calling 1-800-382-5516. Zoeller said his staff stands ready to reach out to suppliers on the customer’s behalf to determine the reason for delayed delivery or failure to respond.

“The extreme winter conditions and market forces have created substantial problems for Hoosiers who are trying to keep their families warm, but also for the industry trying to meet the needs of their customers,” Zoeller said. “My office is offering to help customers by following up with their propane provider to mediate delivery issues or by ensuring another provider can be a source of temporary supply, if needed. It is our hope these efforts will help ensure Hoosiers have the fuel they need to heat their homes during this weather emergency.”

Zoeller is also working with the Indiana Propane Gas Association to keep a pulse on what’s happening in the industry and ensure propane suppliers are treating consumers fairly.

Consumers are often required to obtain a written authorization from their propane supplier in order to have a separate company service their tank, but Zoeller said there are exceptions. State law allows customers to bypass the requirement if there is a weather emergency or their regular suppliers fail or are unable to make timely deliveries.

Many Indiana propane suppliers currently work with their competitors during emergency situations to ensure customers are not left without a heating source. In the instances where suppliers are unable to work with their customers or competitors to meet an emergency need for propane, the attorney general’s office will investigate with the priority to assist the customer to find a supplier to help.

“Indiana propane marketers have been taking extraordinary measures to ensure their customers are being served during this nationwide crisis. In the rare occurrence where a customer’s needs are unable to be met, we welcome the Attorney General’s involvement to ensure that Hoosiers will stay warm during this brutal winter,” said Scot Imus, executive director of the Indiana Propane Gas Association.

Under the energy emergency declared on Jan. 28, the attorney general’s office can investigate consumer claims of price gouging and if violations are found, seek injunctive relief, consumer restitution and civil penalties. Zoeller’s office is continuously monitoring propane prices at all levels of the market. Zoeller reminded consumers that his office cannot assist with negotiating the price of propane.

Since Dec. 16, the Attorney General’s office has received 290 consumer complaints related to the propane shortage.

Hoosiers who want to report suspected price gouging can file a complaint by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1-800-382-5516 to request a complaint form.

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