Hours of service extended for propane haulers during cold snap

For those who rely on propane, tanks can run low or even empty.

Bitter temperatures and icy roads can make it more difficult to transport the heating source to those who need it. Gov. Doug Burgum announced this week an executive order allowing drivers to drive as many hours as needed in order to get propane to those who are using it, which in the state, is tens of thousands of residents.

While these aren't as common as they once were, about 40,000 North Dakota homes still rely on large propane tanks for heat. And with the cold spell we're in right now, making sure you have the resource necessary to stay warm is extremely important.

“This is the prime kind of weather for propane. I mean this is when people need it the most and, you know, you have to try to meet that demand,” said Mike Rud, North Dakota Propane Gas Association.

One place where propane is used in high amounts are on reservations. According to the Standing Rock Housing Authority, about 95 to 98 percent of homes and businesses are heated by propane. Standing Rock officials say there is a high demand for it right now but they've been receiving shipments in a timely manner and aren't seeing issues. But statewide, there are issues arising.

“We saw most of the terminals in North Dakota where there was supply started to allocate,” Rud said. “Supply meaning you could only get so much a day, so we'd have waits at these terminals of 6 to 8 hours and gradually when you have that too many days in a row of 6 to 8 hour waits at the terminal to get just one load of propane, you're going to run into issues.”

He says the waiver for hours of service isn't taken lightly, as driver safety is a top priority. However, so is making sure no one is cold this winter.

The waiver will stay in place until Feb. 17 and Rud says they will reassess if it needs to be extended at that point.