Obama signs Propane Education and Research Enhancement Act of 2014

December 18, 2014 By    

President Barack Obama signed the Propane Education and Research Enhancement Act of 2014 into law on Dec. 18. The bill could help lift a U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) restriction on the Propane Education & Research Council’s (PERC) consumer outreach activities.

“This bill is a significant win for both propane consumers and the industry,” said Rick Roldan, president and CEO of the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), in a legislative alert by the association. “Last winter, during the hardest winter our nation has faced in more than 25 years, the propane industry could not educate consumers on the steps necessary to prepare their propane-heated homes for the winter. Allowing the industry to use its own funds to reach our customers only makes sense.”

The bill amends the Propane Education and Research Act (PERA), updating the data used to calculate a consumer protection price comparison. Under PERA, DOC is directed to annually calculate the price for consumer-grade propane and compare it with a price index of specified competing fuels. If the price of propane exceeds a specified threshold, PERC is restricted from conducting most educational outreach activities regarding the general benefits of propane, on the assumption it is driving disproportionate demand. This restriction took hold in 2009.

During the time since the restriction went into effect, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) stopped collecting the data – measuring residential, consumer-grade propane prices – used by DOC in its analysis.

The Propane Education and Research Enhancement Act of 2014 specifies that DOC must use data reflecting all propane sectors, not just residential. Specifically, the legislation directs DOC to use the refiner price to end users of consumer-grade propane, as published by EIA. The propane industry believes this methodology provides a more accurate price of the product and gives it a greater chance of avoiding the restriction.

Still, it remains unclear when DOC would perform another price analysis that could potentially lift the restriction.

3 Comments on "Obama signs Propane Education and Research Enhancement Act of 2014"

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  1. Why is PERC restricted with regard to its consumer education activities – either with or without the EIA price comparison issue?

  2. And I will make the assumption that we as a propane industry do not buy the disproportionate demand rational and will continue to push to have restrictions removed?

    I just don’t get not being able to spend our own money to promote our own industry – silly me!!