President Barack Obama recently signed H.R. 5705, the "Propane Education and Research Enhancement Act of 2014," into law. This piece of legislation modifies the functions of the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) and the data that the Department of Commerce (DOC) is to use in developing its annual propane price analysis.
“This bill is a significant win for both propane consumers and the industry,” explained Richard Roldan, National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) president and chief executive officer. “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, he added.
Under the Propane Education and Research Act of 1996, the DOC must calculate annually the price for "consumer grade propane" and compare it with an index of prices of specified competing fuels. If the price of propane exceeds a certain threshold, the industry is restricted from conducting most educational outreach activities. In 2009, due to a misinterpretation of the law by the DOC, the restriction was triggered and all educational outreach ceased.
While the law requires DOC to recalculate the price comparison every six months, it has only been completed three times in the last five years. H.R. 5705 specifies Congressional intent that DOC must use data reflecting all propane sectors, not just residential.
Roldan continued, “This law is a perfect example of what Congress can accomplish when they work together. With bi-partisan support, this bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate and consumers are the ultimate beneficiary.”