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Feds use emergency powers to put more propane in the pipeline

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More propane is coming to the Midwest as several pipeline companies make route adjustments to ease distribution of the fuel used to heat an estimated 250,000 homes, farms and businesses in Minnesota.

The Forum News Service reports that Enterprise Product Partners told shippers it would inject an extra 150,000 barrels of propane into its pipeline Monday and 350,000 more barrels on Thursday to ease the shortage.

Reuters says the action comes after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered the pipeline operator to prioritize supplies on its line. It's the first time the federal agency used its emergency powers to direct a pipeline operator to help resolve an "emergency requiring immediate action."

In its decision, FERC cited requests it received from members of Congress as well as a letter from Midwestern governors, including Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

More than 20 states have declared a state of emergency due to the dwindling supplies and skyrocketing prices of propane.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Wisconsin's energy office announced its survey of propane dealers and found the average price of propane sat at $3.83 a gallon. That's down from the last two weeks, but it is the third highest average price on record. Prices this week ranged from $2.98 to $4.30 a gallon.

Propane inventories in the Midwest rose by 770,000 barrels to 9.6 million barrels last week, but are still 44 percent lower than their levels at this time last year.

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