Walz Visits with Family Enduring Propane Price Shock

Created: 02/03/2014 6:12 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- There is still no end in sight for the propane shortage that's affecting thousands of Minnesotans. And Monday, Congressman Tim Walz stopped in Southeast Minnesota to visit with one of those families.

"I was just in shock," said Holly Hoffer. That was her reaction when she opened up the bill from her propane distributor.

"Then I started crying, and then I thought we've got to do something about it," said Hoffer.

That bill was $1,900. The month before, it only cost Holly $600 to fill her tank. And with two little girls to support, and her husband's truck-driving job being their only income, that money isn't easy to come up with.

"First and foremost, the heat's got to be on for Lily and Violet. That's the first thing on that. And then figuring out a way to make sure these things are affordable, that we work something out," said U.S Congressman Tim Walz. He, along with a representative from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, visited with Holly in her home to hear her story.

"What does the average family do?" said Holly.

And to lay out some of the things that the state and federal governments are doing to address the massive propane shortage.

"Trying to get some help with our propane distributors like give us some time to work this thing out. Stretch this thing through the summer months," said Congressman Walz.

"If needed, the National Guard would be activated to help citizens," added Anne O'Connor, with the Department of Commerce. 

One thing the Congressman did admit to, that this shortage wasn't a surprise.

"The meeting in October, the hearing two years ago, we saw this coming, at least, the potential for it to come," said Congressman Walz.  

Which Holly says, doesn't help the people, like her family, who are dealing with the effects of it.

"This isn't right. Something needs to be done. You know, you can't afford to be hit with a four-times amount bill and still support a family," said Hoffer.

The Congressman also pointed out some of the things already being done. Such as transportation restrictions being lifted to allow for more propane to be imported. He also highlighted the work Governor Dayton has done, in calling for a state of emergency, and opening up a hotline.

That hotline saw 1,100 callers in its first four days of being open.