Propane drivers granted emergency exemptions - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Propane drivers granted emergency exemptions


Stanley (WQOW) - Propane drivers across the state are free from legal restrictions on driving hours this week because of an emergency order from the governor.

The cold temperatures and propane customers cranking up the thermostat play are the main cause of this order.

"It's an interesting year, little bit colder," says Stanley Oil Company's Fuel Manager, Dale Sleznikow.

And colder outside, means turning up the thermostat inside.

But for 250,000 Wisconsinites who depend on propane to heat their home, the demand has been taking a toll on trucking.

"We never had a supply issue, there was always plenty of propane, the problem was they can only supply so much.  Normally a terminal will fill their local storage tanks," says Betsy Ahner, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Propane Gas Association.

"We're a small company and I think we work hard for our customers and we want to make sure that we don't run anybody out," says Sleznikow.

So until Sunday propane transport drivers are exempt from laws limiting their hours to 70 per week.

"They needed to be able to drive on the weekend, but they would have totally been out of hours.  So this emergency declaration allowed them to drive on the weekend as well to get caught up," says Ahner.

Because this trickle effect from propane lines to transports to home delivery drivers burned up some of their reserves.

"We had to pull from different terminals than what we normally do, just because there were some shortages," says Sleznikow.

With all the extra hours this week, the state is seeing supplies return to normal levels.

"You always try to anticipate that and try to keep yourself on the full side so you're not running low and short," says Sleznikow.

It's not a strategy that's used often; in fact, it's been four years since the last executive order allowing longer transportation hours for propane.

"We don't like to do that because we know it's not safe for people to be out on the road when they're tired," says Ahner.

Another solution could be right at the touch of your hand, if you adjust the thermostat.

"We've certainly had years much, much colder than this," chuckles Sleznikow.

Some Northeastern Wisconsin propane companies have even had to drive down to Illinois to keep up with fuel demands over the past week.      

Here in Western Wisconsin, terminals say they're supplying smaller distributors to the best of their ability at this time.

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