FERC directs Enterprise to prioritize propane shipments to Midwest, Northeast

February 8, 2014 By    

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has invoked its emergency authority under the Interstate Commerce Act to help alleviate a shortage of propane supplies to consumers in the Midwest and Northeast.

The commission’s order directs Enterprise TE Products Pipeline Co. LLC to temporarily provide priority treatment to propane shipments from Mont Belvieu, Texas, to the Midwest and Northeast regions suffering from severe cold weather.

“We’re mindful of the emergency situation that has developed in parts of the country where bitter cold weather has created problems for consumers who need supplies of propane,” Acting FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur said in a press release. “The problem is acute enough that we feel it is important for us to take this step.”

This marks the first time that FERC has used its emergency authority under the Interstate Commerce Act. Section 1(15) of the act states that whenever the commission is of the opinion that an emergency requiring immediate action exists in any section of the country, it has authority to give directions for preference or priority in transportation, embargoes or movement of traffic.

“This temporary, seven-day order is another step toward stabilizing the propane supply in the affected regions,” said Rick Roldan, president and CEO of the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), in an online statement. “NPGA is hopeful that, upon further consideration, FERC will extend this emergency order for the balance of the home heating season.”

Editor’s note: On Feb. 11, FERC announced a one-week extension, through Feb. 21, to the priority treatment of propane shipments. FERC said its decision came in response to an agreement reached Feb. 10 between Enterprise TE Products Pipeline Co. LLC and NPGA.

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