Berkeley Cooperative customers allowed to contact other propane companies for refill

JOHNS ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Hundreds of Berkeley Cooperative customers will soon feel relief and heat now that they're able to contact other propane suppliers to refill their tanks.

Berkeley Cooperative spokeswoman Leisa Stilley said Monday afternoon customers are able to contact other companies in order to fill their empty or nearly empty tanks leased with Berkeley Cooperative.

"We realize that our members are suffering," she said via phone. "So yes, we have backed off from that lease agreement allowing them to [temporarily] have any company they desire to refill their tank."

Thursday, Vice President, Trena Nelson said Berkeley Cooperative is fully staffed with four drivers who have been refilling up to 40 tanks per day in neighborhoods across the Tri-County because of the huge backlog.

"It tripled as far as requests we got dating back to Dec. 15," Nelson said. "It tripled to almost 600 and something gas deliveries that are needed."

Kim Musselman is one of hundreds of customers who have been waiting on their propane tanks to be refilled.

She said her family has been without heat for one week.

"We have an agreement where every three months they're to come by the house and top off the tank," Musselman said. "The last time we received propane was in September. So we would have been due for additional propane in December."

That has yet to happened, leaving the family at an inconvenience.

"My son is still at a friend's house," she said. "It's just too cold. He can't take showers and what not."

Thursday, Nelson said they were working to refill the tanks based on service and percentage priority. She added there was a setback due to weather conditions, and some drivers getting sick.

While Musselman said she understands setbacks can happen, she did have questions of her own.

"If there are trucks out there from other companies, that have the ability to fill these tanks, why aren't they being brought in to assist," she said.

Stilley said the decision to allow customers to contact other propane companies to fill their tanks was made before Christmas.

"It was shared with our call center," she said.

However, Musselman and other customers were never told that information; rather told they could not employ other companies.

"I called other propane companies and they asked whether or not you own your tank and our tank is a Berkeley Electric Cooperative tank, so they are not allowed to fill it," Musselman said.

"Being that we are under contract where the tank is provided by us, we would love, and we are trying our hardest to get out there and deliver the gas," Nelson said Thursday.

Now several customers want to know why that information was never relayed to them, and where the miscommunication happened.

As of Monday afternoon, following the announcement of the news, Musselman said she had contacted another company and already has a scheduled delivery for Tuesday.

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