House and Senate leaders said today they will act on legislation to ensure Iowans who use propane to heat their homes get the service they need during winter months. State law currently protects natural gas and electric customers from shut-offs between November 1 and April 1, but propane customers currently have no such protection.
“Iowa families heating their homes with propane should never face a potentially dangerous situation because they were denied service,” said State Senator Steve Sodders of State Center. “More than 100 families have been denied service this year and the Legislature must act to prevent this from happening again.”
Under Senate File 2125, propane vendors and venders of other deliverable fuels would be prohibited from refusing sale or delivery during the winter months to a cash customer with at least $500 or to customers eligible for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds. For cash customers with an outstanding balance, the vendor must use at least 75 percent of the cash payment toward the current sale or delivery.
The bill was introduced after the Government Oversight Committee heard testimony last month from propane customers denied fuel because of poor credit history or simply because they choose pay with cash.
“We’ve strived to create jobs for Iowans in the renewable energy industry and help middle class families save money by improving the energy efficiency of their home,” said State Representative Donovan Olson of Boone, who chairs the House Environmental Protection Committee. “In the face of the roughest Iowa winter in decades, Iowans should remember that home heating and weatherization assistance is still available.”
LIHEAP assistance is based on annual income and families of all sizes may apply. The average LIHEAP award is $600 and the payment is made directly to the utility company. Iowans who apply for LIHEAP assistance are also automatically eligible for weatherization assistance that can include insulation, furnace repair/replacement, and water heater replacement.
To apply for assistance, Iowans should contact their local community action agency by calling “211” or logging on to www.dcaa.iowa.gov.