Propane problems in Piedmont - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Propane problems in Piedmont

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PIEDMONT, Ala. -

Several propane customers in Piedmont say the governor's emergency proclamation two weeks ago did nothing to help them.

That is because they pre-paid for propane in the summer.  Mary Gordon said her provider, River City Propane, was in no hurry to refill her 250 gallon tank.

She has a contract with the company, and pre-paid several hundred dollars last summer when propane was cheap.

"Prepay is like $1.69, somewhere around there, so we prepay in August and then we'll have that to do us through the winter," Gordon said.

Governor Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency January 23 due to a propane shortage across the state.  That meant people on contracts could get propane from other companies, but it also suspended regulations on sales--including price.  The current cost is more than double the August rate.

"If you've already put $400 or $500 into prepaid, and you go somewhere else and you have to shell out $3.59 a gallon, it's not feasible for people," Gordon said.

Otherwise she would have called another company for a refill as she neared empty.  She was down to five gallons Friday and would have been completely out Saturday if she didn't get the delivery she requested days earlier.

Gordon said she normally uses 100 gallons a month.  She said she called several times last week when she had fewer than 20 gallons of propane.

She limited her usage as she waited for a refill, even lowering the temperature inside her home to below 60 degrees, to try to save gas.  Friends and relatives who also pre-paid were stuck waiting for deliveries as well.

"My mom, she's 72, and she lives right up the road.  She was sitting in her kitchen with only one heater on for days because she was afraid she was going to run out," Gordon said.

Fortunately, a delivery man arrived at Gordon's house late Friday night.  It was 2 a.m.

"I was asleep and I heard the truck come up.  So I raised the window and I told him to just fill it up.  It was too hard to get so just go ahead and fill it up," she said.

ABC 33/40 called River City Propane several times Monday, but no one answered.  An automated response at the end of the voicemail greeting indicated that the answering machine  was full.

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