Last week, a bi-partisan group of senators made up of Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), introduced the Propane Supply and Security Act of 2014, S. 2762. This comprehensive legislation will benefit propane customers directly, increase market transparency, and improve the propane delivery infrastructure.
The bill contains language that would clarify Congressional intent of the Propane Education and Research Act that currently restricts customer outreach activities by the Propane Education & Research Council. This portion of the proposed legislation is critical because it allows the industry to use its own resources to talk directly to our customers.
For consumers, the bill makes it easier to know what the market price of propane is in neighboring areas by expanding the pricing data from States that participate in the State Heating Oil and Propane Program (SHOPP) of the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Armed with this information, customers can make more informed purchasing decisions.
Last winter, propane prices increased dramatically at a time when the storage levels at major market hubs in Conway, KS, and elsewhere, were unknown. The proposed legislation would eliminate that kind of market uncertainty by mandating weekly inventory data reported at the State level and at the collective storage facilities at market hubs.
The Propane Supply and Security Act of 2014 increases the authority given to Cabinet Secretaries to ease regulatory burdens during fuel emergencies. If a sudden price spike or supply shortage occurs, the Secretary of Energy will lead emergency response efforts to ensure expedited distribution of propane through measures such as: exemptions from hours-of-service restrictions, prioritizing propane shipments by rail and in pipelines, and other actions deemed necessary.
The National Propane Gas Association applauds this bi-partisan group of senators for their leadership in preventing another propane supply and distribution crisis. The provisions contained in this bill benefit consumers and improve market transparency. NPGA is looking forward to working with other stakeholders as the bill advances through the legislative process.
Rick Roldan is the president and CEO of the National Propane Gas Association