New Jersey, New York propane associations to receive Hurricane Sandy relief funding

December 5, 2012 By    

Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) President and CEO Roy Willis has authorized a presidential grant that designates up to $25,000 each for the New Jersey and New York propane gas associations to aid in their Hurricane Sandy response efforts.

The special funding will help offset the extraordinary expenses incurred in those high-populated states following the storm, Willis says. Sandy came ashore near Atlantic City, N.J., on Oct. 29, leaving about 8.5 million customers without electric power in the region.

After Sandy made landfall, the industry was called upon to provide propane and assistance to emergency relief centers. PERC funds will go toward the costs of that supply, in addition to other services utilized during the recovery, like those linked to communications and emergency outreach, Willis says.

“We do have a public safety mandate in our statute,” he says. “We are mindful that during storms demand for propane surges, and it’s critical that the industry talks to consumers about the safe use of propane.”

PERC has exercised this option only one previous time, Willis says – when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf of Mexico in 2005. The council reimbursed Louisiana for expenses incurred in that recovery.

“It was a welcomed olive branch,” says Rob Nicholson III, president of Eastern Propane Corp. and the National Propane Gas Association state director for New Jersey, of the funds.

The New Jersey Propane Gas Association will distribute its funds to propane marketers and equipment suppliers who donated propane, cylinders and services to the relief cause – those in need of temporary propane heating and cooking devices, Nicholson says.

Eastern Propane, for example, put its product to use right away, providing the American Red Cross with propane for shelters in hard-hit areas – one example of propane playing a role at post-Sandy relief centers.

The New Jersey association also retained a communications firm to assist in writing press releases and developing safety messages for emergency responders, aid centers, the general public, radio and newsprint.

“They’ve helped get us through the crisis portion of this and to get the emergency messages out,” says Nicholson, noting the association will review and perhaps update its emergency plan based on its Sandy experiences.

Barbara Roach, executive director of the New York Propane Gas Association (NYPGA), says the funding is “obviously very positive. I was very pleased when Roy called to offer that assistance. It was unexpected but a very nice gesture, and certainly we’ll put it to good use.”

The NYPGA is in the early stages of designating the funds, Roach says, but she expects a portion of them to reimburse marketers who donated propane for use in the relief efforts. The association is also developing a disaster/emergency management plan, as well as a more complete database of state marketing members and non-members.

Meanwhile, there have been many stories of propane industry companies reaching out to help one another after the storm and of propane’s ability to become a solution to the region’s energy needs when other fuels were in short supply.

“The industry across the country responded to help ensure that propane service was available, not disrupted, and that we had the capability to handle the surge in demand that occurred,” Willis says. “The industry should be proud of the role it played in helping the citizens respond to the storm.”

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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