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Indiana Governor signs executive order to avert local propane shortages

The governor said that local propane distributors are beginning to face shortages and he aims to expedite deliveries into the state. The governor has signed similar executive orders before when demand surged as temperatures plummeted.
FILE/WFYI News
The governor said that local propane distributors are beginning to face shortages and he aims to expedite deliveries into the state. The governor has signed similar executive orders before when demand surged as temperatures plummeted.

About half a million Indiana residents who rely on propane gas for heat could be facing a limited supply. On Jan. 15, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed his first executive order of 2024 seeking to avoid that.

The order temporarily lifts restrictions on commercial drivers’ hours of service — the amount of time they spend on the road in one shift. Federal and state laws prevent truck drivers from exceeding that limit for safety, but they also permit certain exceptions in emergencies.

Holcomb said that local distributors are beginning to face shortages. There are also fewer drivers than needed, and existing drivers have to travel longer distances for propane.

Nationally, total consumption of natural gas has exceeded the available supply since the beginning of the year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The cost has climbed along with it. Increases in cost and consumption during this week’s cold spell were expected.

“It is necessary and appropriate to assist with and expedite any and all efforts to obtain and transport propane gas throughout the State of Indiana,” the order stated.

This isn’t the first time that Holcomb has issued an executive order in response to a surge in demand during colder temperatures. Most recently, he signed one last November. Governors in other states have routinely issued similar executive orders.

Commercial drivers are exempt from federal and state limits in Indiana until the order expires Thursday, Jan. 25, unless the governor extends or ends it earlier.

If you depend on propane for heat and you’re running low, first call your propane supplier to see if they can provide an emergency refill. Turn on faucets to drip so that your pipes don’t freeze. Try to make up for your heating system by layering warm clothing and using electric heaters, but take precautions to make sure you’re using the portable heaters safely.

Central Indiana is under a wind chill advisory until noon today, with temperatures as low as 25 F below zero. Wednesday, temperatures are expected to increase into the twenties, continuing to warm through next week.

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