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Heating help not for everyone

Posted by: under Loopholes Updated: February 9, 2010 - 12:16 PM

Over the past year, hundreds of you have asked Whistleblower for help. Even though we can’t look into each tip, we’ve found a way we can share more of what you tell us. We will showcase an interesting tip that we’ll ask you to react to, discuss and even investigate. As always, you can send your story ideas to whistleblower@startribune.com.

On a bitterly cold day in Buffalo, Minn. in December 2005, a propane delivery service hauled away the propane tank from a Buffalo mobile home. The owner was in the hospital at the time and said she owed $11, but the company still removed the tank. It didn’t take long for the pipes to freeze and burst, leaving an icy mess. It’s been several years since she lost her home, but the owner contacted Whistleblower because she thinks it could have been saved if propane was covered under the state’s cold weather rule.

The rule helps natural gas and electric utility customers set up a payment plan and avoid having their heat shut off between Oct. 15 and April 15, but propane and other delivered fuels are excluded.

Here’s what she wrote to Whistleblower:
“Water sprayed everywhere … I lost everything, including my baby kitten that was frozen to death in the middle of the kitchen floor, the Bible that my mother had given me before she died, all of my clothes … I feel very strongly this could have been prevented had the cold weather rule been enforced universally across the state.”
Do you think everybody should get the benefit of the cold weather rule?

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