Texas Gov. Rick Perry has agreed to extend a waiver of trucking restrictions that will allow more propane to flow to Minnesota and other states, Gov. Mark Dayton announced Thursday.
Dayton and other Midwestern governors called Perry on Thursday to ask him to renew a waiver he granted Jan. 23 that's due to expire Wednesday.
The waiver allows trucks from outside Texas to load propane at terminals there and transport it to other states.
Minnesota and other states have been struggling with dwindling supplies and rising prices for liquid propane, which an estimated 250,000 Minnesota households use to heat their homes.
Also Thursday, the Obama administration announced it was releasing an additional $15.8 million in heating-assistance funds for Minnesota, bringing the state's total for the year to $114.5 million.
With projected subzero temperatures forecast for the next few weeks, the state is calling on the federal government to provide more funding, said state Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman.
The Commerce Department has announced that needy Minnesota families heating their homes with propane and heating oil are eligible for crisis payments of $1,000, up from $500. That's on top of primary grants for heating assistance that average $500.
More information about heating assistance is available online at bit.ly/HeatingAssistance or by calling 1-800-657-3710.
The state on Thursday set up a hotline to provide information and assistance related to the propane shortage.
By mid-afternoon, it had received 80 calls, officials said.
The hotline -- 651-297-1304 in the metro area and 1-800-657-3504 elsewhere in the state -- was established as a resource for people who have questions about the shortage or who are in danger of running out of heating fuel.
Established by the State Emergency Operations Center, it is staffed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
State Commerce Department officials are staffing the line to provide callers with information about energy-assistance programs and resources in their home counties.
Some callers said they were unable to afford minimum orders for propane, according to the state Public Safety Department.
Dayton declared a "peacetime state of emergency" Monday to mobilize state resources to respond to the propane crisis. He plans to ask the Minnesota Executive Council on Friday to extend the state of emergency for up to 30 days.
Copyright 2014 - Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
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