On Sunday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order declaring a state of energy emergency in Michigan to ensure adequate propane distribution over the coming days, according to a press release.
As many states have been experiencing consistent extreme cold temperatures, the demand for energy has increased significantly, which has put a strain on the nation’s energy infrastructure. Michigan has experienced an abnormally high demand for propane from in-state and regional consumers, causing longer lines at propane distribution centers. In an effort to reduce this strain and ensure a consistent flow of energy, the executive order temporarily suspends restrictions on commercial driver hours to allow the immediate delivery of energy to homes and businesses.
“With a cold wave gripping the country, our top priority right now is ensuring that Michigan families and businesses have the home heating fuel we need to stay warm,” said Whitmer. “While I am confident that our state has the energy supply we need to get through these cold winter days, we aren’t taking any chances after what happened in Texas this week. All of Michigan’s neighboring states, and the majority of states in the nation, are under some form of federal or state energy emergency declaration. With today’s order, Michigan will allow expanded flexibility for drivers to ensure the supply of home heating fuel can be delivered across the state without delay or interruption.”
Executive Order 2021-3 takes effect immediately on Saturday, February 20, and remains in effect through Sunday, February 28. The order exempts motor carriers and drivers transporting propane and heating oil from compliance with maximum weekly driving and on-duty limits. Any provision of a state statute, order, or rule pertaining to the hours-of-service is suspended. This exemption and suspension apply to all highways in Michigan, including the national system of interstate and defense highways.
Following the polar vortex in 2019, Governor Whitmer directed the Michigan Public Service Commission to conduct a Statewide Energy Assessment. The assessment, which was released in September of 2019, outlined a number of steps the commission and its staff have since taken to ensure that Michigan’s systems for supplying and distributing energy to homes and businesses become more resilient and able to withstand weather extremes, aging infrastructure and other challenges ahead.