The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 28, 2014

Alabama propane association working with leaders on supplying fuel


— Alabama’s billion-dollar poultry industry is bracing for freezing weather at a time when propane is in short supply and facing major transportation issues.

Members of the Alabama Farmers Federation staff participated in a conference call Monday with elected officials and representatives of the propane industry.

Below-freezing temperatures are expected several nights this week. The probability of icy road conditions in some areas of the state is compounding delivery problems for the propane industry. Farmers are concerned propane needed to keep their flocks warm will run out before they can be refilled.

“We are working with state, federal and industry officials to assess the supply situation and provide accurate information to help our members make informed decisions,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “The amount of propane available in the state is unclear, however, extreme cold and a nationwide shortage are likely to continue impacting availability and price.”

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said his office has received reports of significant price increases within recent days. He said the state’s price-gouging law went into effect when Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency last week.

Although state law does not specifically define price-gouging, prices 25 percent or more above the average charged in the same area within the last 30 days — unless the increase can be attributed to a reasonable cost — is a clear case of unconscionable pricing, according to a release from the Attorney General’s Office. The penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 per violation. Those determined to have willfully and continuously violated this law may be prohibited from doing business in Alabama.

Strange urges consumers and officials to report any problems of illegal price gouging to his Office of Consumer Protection by calling 800-392-5658, by writing to 501 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL, 36130, or going to the attorney general’s Web page at http://www.ago.state.al.us/.

Farmers with an emergency need for propane should contact the Alabama Propane Gas Association (APGA) at 334-358-9590. A list of APGA members is available online at http://www.alabamapropane.com/uploadedFiles/State/Alabama/dealers.pdf.

Farmers who incur additional expense or loss due to the propane shortage are encouraged to keep receipts and accurate records.