Weather Forecast


Low-interest loans to help propane customers

By Sarah Smith

Park Rapids banks have banded together to offer low-interest loans to help pay mounting energy bills.

Banks will offer customers 1 percent loans to keep current on their utility bills. Those loans will be financed over the next several months.

“We’re not experiencing problems like the gas companies,” said Itasca-Mantrap CEO Michael Monsrud. But he urged customers to take advantage of the bank program that was just set up.

Or customers could try MAHUBE or the Salvation Army, which both help supplement energy costs to eligible persons.

As propane continues to skyrocket in cost and nosedive in availability, customers are pushing the panic button.

“We haven’t had anybody run out but we’re going to be referring them to the banks,” said Jane Korsberg of Skelgas in Park Rapids, who said their company has heard from a lot of nervous customers.

The state has established a hotline for Minnesotans with propane problems or questions.

Because propane is in short supply and prices are reaching an all-time high, Gov. Mark Dayton has declared a state of emergency.

The hotline is 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 651-297-1304 or 800-657-3504. Experts from the state Commerce Department are staffing the hotline in the Minnesota Emergency Operations Center.

About 250,000 Minnesota homes use propane fuel for heat, with businesses and farmers also using it. Most of the homes that use propane are in rural areas.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364