Iowa Lawmakers are considering new protections for poeple who heat their homes with propane. The proposed bill would prohibit propane vendors from refusing to sell or deliver during the winter months,as long as the customer has at least $500 in cash or was qualified for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Senator Steve Sodders, a Democrat from State Center, says the legislation was introduced after the government oversight committee heard testimony last month from propane customers who were denied fuel for having poor credit or wanting to pay with cash.
“Even in my own area before the session started I heard of a few people who were being denied propane deliveries even though they had LIEHEAP monies. This is pre-paid monies to these folks and they should have been delivered the fuel,” Sodders says.
He says the state already protects those who heat with other fuels. “You know we right now prevent Iowa gas and electric companies from shutting off families during November to April first, although there is nothing currently for propane dealers,” Sodders says, “In fact we heard testimony that over 100 families, or around 100 families, were not serviced for propane this last year and we shouldn’t have that here in Iowa.”
Sodders says the problem has been magnified by the record-setting winter. He says this has been one of the worst Iowa winters and that has led to fears from working families about how they are going to heart their homes, and keep their families safe while heating their homes.
Sodders says the legislation would also help protect customers who owe the propane vendor money. It requires venders to use at least 75% of a cash payment toward the current sale before applying the rest to the outstanding balance.