Rep. Walz to visit West Concord to discuss propane shortage - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Rep. Walz visits West Concord to discuss propane shortage

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WEST CONCORD, Minn. (KTTC) -- Lawmakers in our region continue to try to find solutions to the dramatic rise in propane costs. Congressman Tim Walz met with a family in West Concord Monday to talk about how they are dealing with the problem.

"I was shocked." That's what Holly Hoffer told Rep. Tim Walz about her propane bill during a kitchen table discussion at her home in West Concord.

"We had just paid our December bill of $600 and all of a sudden it's four times the amount," she said. "I was shocked, lost for words, and then the tears started flowing, because I don't know how we're going to pay for it."

The Hoffers are just part of potentially thousands of families struggling to keep their homes warm.

The Department of Commerce set up an emergency hotline Thursday, and over the weekend, the number of calls rose nearly as fast as the price of LP.

"Having 1100 calls since the call center opened on Thursday really shows the impact across our state," said Anne O'Connor of the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Unlike the "cold weather rule" for natural gas, there are no laws regulating the supply of propane.

"If you haven't paid your bill, they just don't bring you any out," Hoffer said.

There's no evidence any families have been shut off, however many are coming close.

"The frustrating part I guess, to me, is that everyone understands that markets fluctuate," Walz said. "But certain commodities are so critically important."

"It's not a luxury. I have two little girls running around the house and they need heat," said Hoffer.

Congressman Tim Walz and Hoffer discussed solutions as well. But some of them might be out of the hands of legislators.

"It's going to be dependent on this cold snap that's happening out east," Walz said.

But Holly, and thousands of others who depend on LP can agree on one thing: Something needs to happen soon.

Hoffer said of her next bill, "What happens when my heat runs out in 30 days? Am I going to get another 2,000 dollar bill?

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