AMBERG, Wis. (WFRV) - Winter heating may not be on the minds of many people right now, but after a major propane shortage plagued Wisconsin last winter, officials say it should be.
In northern Wisconsin, just a few short months ago, propane was hard to come by and prices more than doubled.
"I was on a trip and I came back and found out we had no gas," Bob Mathis said.
It's a time still fresh in the mind of Mathis. He owns a hardware store in Amberg.
"I know a lot of other people around here so I went to another company and paid for some gas and got it," he explained. "But I went from $1.40 a gallon to $5.50 a gallon.
It was a stiff price to pay. That's why he's thinking ahead.
"I have a contract for this year," he said. "I actually signed an account with two different places so I have a back-up."
Industry leaders are urging all propane customers to fill their tanks during the summer.
"Historically, that's the lowest price of the year," said Andy Fiene, CEO of Premier Cooperative. "Then they're insured to have it when they need it."
Premier Cooperative serves 18,000 customers across Wisconsin . Fiene said about 60 percent sign contracts and lock in a price early.
"We only lock in the gallons that our members lock with us," he explained. "So if that customer that didn't lock gallons in orders in the winter time, those are gallons that we need to pay market price for too."
Mathis is all locked in and waiting for his fill.
"I'll get gas this winter," added Mathis. "The company I'm dealing with right now is very reliable."
Just this week President Obama signed the Reliable Home Heating Act into law. It's something Governor Scott Walker strongly supports. It's aimed to allow states greater flexibility to help customers deal with critical heating shortages.