January 2018 Texas Propane magazine

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TexasPropane Volume 74 No. 1

T H E M AG A Z I N E F O R T H E T E X A S P R O PA N E G A S A S S O C I AT I O N

Don’t Be Held for Ransom: Cybersecurity for Businesses

January 2018


Are You Ready to Take the Next Step?

Pinnacle Propane is committed to maintaining the legacy you’ve built. Have you considered selling your propane business but concerns for your customers and employees are holding you back? At Pinnacle Propane, our values of Customer Service, Integrity, and Safety emphasize providing the best possible experience for our customers and employees. As a Texas-based company, we focus on providing local service to our customers in the communities we do business and empowering our employees via competitive pay and a comprehensive benefits package. As you think about next steps, let us work with you to develop a fair purchase plan and a seamless transition so that you can relax and enjoy the results of your efforts.

Matt Terry Director, Acquisitions (210) 560-5418

Bill Webb Senior Vice President, Acquisitions (936) 329-1440

For more information and a confidential assessment of your business, whether retail propane or cylinder exchange, and wherever you are in the United States, call us today.

Pinnacle Propane is now part of the SHV Energy family. SHV Energy is one of the world’s leading propane distributors and has over 16,000 employees and operates in more than 20 countries. As part of the 121 year old Dutch privately owned SHV Holdings, SHV Energy is committed to working sustainably with communities, stakeholders and policy makers.

www.pinnpropane.com

Pinnacle Propane is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.


TexasPropane January 2018

8408 North IH 35 Austin, TX 78753 (512) 836-8620 or (800) 325-7427 (512) 834-0758 fax E-mail: info@txpropane.com www.txpropane.com

T H E M AG A Z I N E F O R T H E T E X A S P R O PA N E G A S A S S O C I AT I O N

TPGA staff Bill Van Hoy Executive Director bvanhoy@txpropane.com Jackie Mason Education & Marketing Regulatory & Legislative Affairs jmason@txpropane.com Debbie Simpson Executive Assistant Membership Meeting Planner Publication Coordinator dsimpson@txpropane.com Propane Service Corporation

Debbie Simpson (800) 392-0023 dsimpson@txpropane.com Publisher

Kim Scheberle Account Manager/Managing Editor Sail House Publishing (512) 346-0892 kscheberle@austin.rr.com Joanne Pantaze Advertising Sales 512-273-2639 jpantaze@pvco.net Kiki Pantaze Art Director (512) 924-7566 kpantaze@pvco.net

Cybersecurity for Businesses With Cyber Attacks so Prevalent, How Can You Protect Your Business?

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Features Don’t Forget Energy Assistance Still Available for Your Low Income Customers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Ring in the New Year with These Marketing Tips for Your Business. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 ProCOT’s Year in Review: Your State PERC Dollars at Work. . . 17 Safety Precautions When Filling Containers Safety Meeting. . 22

Departments Highlights from Headquarters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 TPGA Board of Directors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 People in Propane. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Inside the Industry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Tell Us Something Good. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Legal Beat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Say Cheese. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Classified Advertising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Calendar of Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Index to Advertisers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Propane with Purpose. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30


Highlights from Headquarters

Looking Forward to 2018 Bill Van Hoy

SUPPLIER Alliance Autogas Swannanoa, NC

AFFINITY PARTNERS BASYS • Lone Star Energy Group

TPGA Executive Director

Happy New Year! The start of a new calendar year seems like an obvious time to talk about new beginnings. I’m sure you have a New Year’s resolution or two! The most exciting new item for propane marketers being the Find a Propane Retailer website set to launch very soon. Only TPGA members will be listed on this website that customers will use to locate propane retailers in the state of Texas. I believe we have many reasons to have enormous pride in our accomplishments in 2017, and I look forward with enthu-

New Member

siasm to 2018. The work of the TPGA staff continues in full swing after a brief respite during the holidays. The legal action continues, as well as aggressively working to mitigate harmful regulations for our members, and preparing to host an outstanding conference and expo in Fort Worth. These are exciting times for the association, and we encourage all members to take advantage of the many benefits TPGA offers. Let us know how we can best serve you!

2017-2018 TPGA Board of Directors President: John Walter, Schneider Distributing, 800-901-9109 President Elect: Jack Walzel, Tri-Co Propane, 254-642-3885 Secretary: Harris Baker, Pinnacle Propane, 512-306-0073 Treasurer/Finance Chair: Josh McAdams, McAdams Propane, 936-598-7444 District 1 Director: Jim Vines, Cooper Propane, 903-785-5242 District 1 Alternate: April Welch, WelchGas, 903-577-1446 District 2 Director: Josh McAdams, McAdams Propane, 936-598-7444 District 2 Alternate: Open District 3 Director: Jeremy Gentile, Hill Butane, 409-296-2001 District 3 Alternate: Open District 4 Director: Mark Peterson, Buster Brown Propane, 281-689-3946 District 4 Alternate: Allen Wells, Baygas, 281-332-2660 District 5 Director: Open District 5 Alternate: Open District 6 Director: Omar Garcia, Mr. G Propane, 956-581-1063 District 6 Alternate: Open District 7 Director: Steve Smith, Smith Gas, 830-393-2533 District 7 Alternate: Sharon Seal, Bell Hydrogas, 210-533-7103 District 8 Director: Jack Walzel, Tri-Co Propane, 254-642-3885 District 8 Alternate: Rodney Sladek, Fayetteville Propane, 979-836-7044 District 9 Director: Bill McCullough, Butane Gas, 800-242-69010 District 9 Alternate: Brad Quisenberry, Gene Harris Petroleum, 888-336-4474 District 10 Director: Josh Nowlin, McCraw Propane, 9003-583-7481 District 10 Alternate: Sam Fox, McCraw Oil, 469-261-1148 District 11 Director: Steve Adams, Hardwick LPG, 254-647-3402 District 11 Alternate: Lane Worthington, Sunoco, 325-835-3031 District 12 Director: John Gordon, Bob’s Fuels, 325-647-3619 District 12 Alternate: Laci Jo Stone, Schneider Distributing, 800-901-9109

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District 13 Director: Open District 13 Alternate: Open District 14 Director: Open District 14 Alternate: Open District 15 Director: Don Heinrich, Slaton Gas, 806-828-6501 District 15 Alternate: Open District 16 Director: Open District 16 Alternate: Open Past President: Ben Wood, Northwest Propane, 972-247-6121 Past President: John Kelly, Kelly Propane, 940-586-1208 Past President: Todd Dorris, Roadrunner Energy, 830-278-5317 Past President: Doug Maclay, United Propane, 972-225-2347 Vice President: Allen Wells, Baygas, Bay Gas, 281-332-2630 Vice President: Matt Terry, JP Energy Partners, 210-560-5418 Vice President: John Gordon, Bob’s Fuels, 325-647-3619 Sr. Vice President: Mark Peterson, Buster Brown Propane, 281-689-3946 Sr. Vice President: Bill Collins, Collins Propane, 972-442-1078 Sr. Vice President: Joe Green, Green’s Blue Flame Gas, 713-462-5414 Assoc. Supplier Service Director: Rusty Walker, Marshall Young Insurance, 817-645-9155 Assoc. Supplier Service Alternate: Don Hankins, Alamo Corporate Group, 817-615-8393 Assoc. Producer/Marketing Gas Director: Jimmie Grant, Martin Gas Sales, 713-851-6155 Assoc. Producer/Marketing Gas Alternate: Anna May Etheredge, Bishop Energy, 940-665-4672 Assoc. Manufacturer/Distributor Director: Mark Smith, Leran, 512-318-1840 Assoc. Manufacturer/Distributor Alternate: Jim Diehl, Squibb Taylor, 214-357-4591 Assoc. At Large Director: Tracy Wells, Gas Equipment Company, 214-638-8018 Assoc. At Large Director: J.R. Anderson, Gas Equipment Company, Nominating Chair: Doug Maclay, United Propane, 972-225-2347 NPGA Director: Jim Bishop, Bishop Energy, 940-665-3457


TPGA 1st quarter board meeting March 6-7, 2018 Lone Star Court Austin, TX RSVP by February 9, 2018

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January 2018 •

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Featured

Cybersecurity It was payday when Rick Snow learned he was the victim of a cyber attack. When he went to check the bank balance for his go-kart racing business, Maine Indoor Karting, he found his bank balance to be zero. Snow was just one person to testify before Congress in 2016 on cyber security. And he is just one of the thousands of small business owners devastated by hackers.

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Featured

for Businesses With Cyber Attacks So Prevalent, How Can You Protect Your Business? By Judy L. Machman

January 2018 •

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Featured

Has your business been the victim of a data breach or cyber attack? If not, the chances are pretty high that it will happen at some point. We’re all familiar with the major data breaches for corporations and organizations like Target, Home Depot, and Equifax. But it’s not just big retailers or banks or other national organizations that handle sensitive data that are at risk. Small businesses — and that includes many propane marketers around the state — have become increasingly targeted by cybercriminals, as well. “Many small businesses may think that they are not at risk, that they are too small or don’t have any information people would want,” said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). “But the truth is small businesses can be targeted, and sometimes, cyber attacks are simply automated as cybercriminals are looking for vulnerabilities in a computer network to exploit.” Kaiser likened it to thieves who break into homes with unlocked doors because they provide easy access. The threat is significant. According to a report from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the 2017 State of Cybersecurity of Small Businesses in North America, more than one out of five businesses reported they had been the target of a cyber attack and for approximately one out of 10, the attack had happened in the last 12 months. But a survey of small businesses by CNBC in July found that only 2 percent of small business owners said they viewed a cyber attack as the most critical issue they face. And that’s certainly understandable. Small business owners are focused on the day-today operations as they work to keep building their business and pay salaries, taxes, and so on. “Eighty percent to 85 percent of most organizations used computers or telecommunications devices to be productive,” said Dr. Shawn P. Murray, president and chief academic officer of Murray Security Services and Consulting in Colorado Springs, Colo., and

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a mentor with SCORE, an organization that provides free small business advice through industry experts. “Businesses need at least a minimum amount of protection.” The primary issue for small businesses in the case of a cyber incident, however, is the potential impact to those daily business operations. There’s also the corresponding loss of customers and reputation, particularly when customer or client information is stolen. The stakes are especially high because it may be harder for small businesses to absorb a financial hit from lost business. The BBB survey reported that only 35 percent of businesses could stay profitable for more than three months if they permanently loss essential data from a cyber attack and more than half would be unprofitable in under a month.

Phishing and Ransomware

“The days of worrying about cybersecurity later are past. Businesses can’t ignore it any longer,” said Dillon Behr, executive lines broker for Risk Placement Services Inc., which provides cyber liability insurance to companies, during a webinar presentation on cybersecurity for small businesses to the National Federation of Independent Business. So, who’s behind the kinds of attacks that can cause data breaches? Behr pointed to a 2017 Verizon data breach investigations report that showed that 75 percent of incidents are perpetrated by individuals or organizations outside of the company and 25 percent by internal actors (someone within the company or who has inside knowledge of company operations). Among the main tactics used by cybercriminals for data breaches, hacking ranked number one followed closely by malicious software or “malware” — even if small businesses may not think their data qualifies as “important,” they are collecting sensitive data, ranging from employees’ personal information to customers’ credit card numbers and vendor data. They also can be targeted as a gateway through the supply chain to larger corporate targets. The two main categories of cyber attacks are syntactic and semantic. The former includes malware, ransomware, viruses, and worms, while the latter uses or modifies data to cause harm, such as a denial of service (DOS) attack, in which a computer interrupts a network service by pushing high volumes of data at the network, or phishing, in which sensitive data is acquired by imitating (spoofing) a legitimate email address or misdirecting the user to a fake website. “The number one method that is most successful for providing external hackers access to a business’ network is through a


Featured phishing email,” Murray said. “Eighty percent of phishing attacks happen through email.” He added that these messages are often tailored for employees in an organization, providing information or requests that motivate them to click on a link or attachment. The challenge with detecting phishing emails is how genuine they can look, especially if they spoof or imitate a legitimate email address, such as for the business owner or a trusted vendor. You should be alert. Common in phishing is email masking or email spoofing. Email spoofing is the creation of email messages with a forged sender address. It is common for spam and phishing emails to use such spoofing to mislead the recipient about the origin of the message. Even if the email appears to be from a sender you know, like someone in the office, if they ask out of the ordinary questions like requests for financial data to be emailed, etc. give them a quick ring to ensure the email is legitimate. Check out the side bar on 10 tips to identify email masking/spoofing. Another attack small businesses should be aware of because of its ability to severely disrupt their operations is ransomware. It is a form of malware that installs on your computer or mobile device and encrypts your data files. The perpetrators hold the data “hostage” and demand ransom, often in the form of bitcoin or other electronic currency, to release your data back to you. The problem is that there is no guarantee that even if a business pays the ransom that their files will be returned. Ransomware can come through phishing attacks via email — an employee clicks

10 Tips on How to Identify a Phishing or Spoofing Email Tip 1: Don’t trust the display name A popular phishing tactic among cybercriminals is to spoof the display name of an email. Return Path analyzed more than 760,000 email threats targeting 40 of the world’s largest brands and found that nearly half of all email threats spoofed the brand in the display name. Here’s how it works: If a fraudster wanted to spoof the hypothetical brand “My Bank,” the email may look something like: Since My Bank doesn’t own the domain “secure.com,” DMARC will not block this email on My Bank’s behalf, even if My Bank has set their DMARC policy for mybank.com to reject messages that fail to authenticate. This fraudulent email, once delivered, appears legitimate because most user inboxes only present the display name. Don’t trust the display name. Check the email address in the header from—if it looks suspicious, don’t open the email. Tip 2: Look but don’t click Hover your mouse over any links embedded in the body of the email. If the link address looks weird, don’t click on it. If you want to test the link, open a new window and type in website address directly rather than clicking on the link from unsolicited emails. Tip 3: Check for spelling mistakes Brands are pretty serious about email. Legitimate messages usually do not have major spelling mistakes or poor grammar. Read your emails carefully and report anything that seems suspicious. Tip 4: Analyze the salutation Is the email addressed to a vague “Valued Customer?” If so, watch out—legitimate businesses will often use a personal salutation with your first and last name. Tip 5: Don’t give up personal information Legitimate companies will never ask for personal credentials via email. Don’t give them up. Tip 6: Beware of urgent or threatening language in the subject line Invoking a sense of urgency or fear is a common phishing tactic. Beware of subject lines that claim your “account has been suspended” or your account had an “unauthorized login attempt.” Tip 7: Review the signature Lack of details about the signer or how you can contact a company strongly suggests a phish. Legitimate businesses always provide contact details. Tip 8: Don’t click on attachments Including malicious attachments that contain viruses and malware is a common phishing tactic. Malware can damage files on your computer, steal your passwords or spy on you without your knowledge. Don’t open any email attachments you weren’t expecting. Tip 9: Don’t trust the header from email address Fraudsters not only spoof brands in the display name, but also spoof brands in the header from email address. Return Path found that nearly 30% of more than 760,000 email threats spoofed brands somewhere in the header from email address with more than two thirds spoofing the brand in the email domain alone. Tip 10: Don’t believe everything you see Phishers are extremely good at what they do. Just because an email has convincing brand logos, language, and a seemingly valid email address, does not mean that it’s legitimate. Be skeptical when it comes to your email messages—if it looks even remotely suspicious, don’t open it. Reprinted with permission from Return Path, an email marketing firm. https://returnpath.com.

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Featured In May, for example, a massive ransomware attack called WannaCry affected more than a quarter million systems globally, including the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, and damages were estimated in excess of $1 billion. Payments were demanded in bitcoin; however, there were no reports of any data being decrypted after payments were made.

Setting Up Defenses

Small businesses often don’t have the time or resources to put toward cybersecurity efforts. In the BBB’s report, lack of resources at 28 percent and lack of expertise or understanding at 27 percent were the two highest factors among respondents for what hinders their organization in ensuring proper defenses. While many small businesses do have some defenses in place, such as antivirus software and an Internet firewall, it can still be overwhelming on a link or attachment — as well as through unpatched softthinking about all the potential risks and how to combat them. ware, infected software apps, infected external storage devices Where do you begin? (external hard drives), or compromised websites. The perpetraTo combat cyber attacks, particularly ransomware, an ounce of tors use several methods to extort money from victims, ranging prevention goes a long way. from a popup message or email ransom note to selling a product “Backing up your data on a regular basis is the most important that promises to help the victim unlock the affected files and prething you can do in a ransomware attack,” Kaiser said. “You can vent future attacks. have the system wiped and reinstall the data.” Murray concurred: “HavBluetooth Vulnerabilities ing a backup strategy is critical. How often do you back up “You intuitively know why you should bolt your doors when you leave the house and add some sort of your data? Every night? Every authentication for your smartphone. But there are lots of digital entrances that you leave open all the week? It depends on how oftime, such as Wi-Fi and your cell connection,” reports Wired magazine. ten your business creates critical data that you can’t afford to Bluetooth vulnerabilities, known as BlueBorne, potentially are affecting millions of unpatched mobile lose.” phones, computers, and other devices. Unlike other cyber attacks, this one is done through the air. Kaiser added that if your Also, contrary to traditional malware or attacks, the user does not have to click on a link or download a business is a ransomware vicquestionable file to enable an attack. The cyber criminal just searches for Bluetooth connections near tim, there are decryption tools them to attack. available to unlock data without paying, but there’s no guarAttacks can spread from your various Bluetooth devices within seconds. One Austin small business antee that they will work given owner had his iPhone, iPad, and Macbook hacked simultaneously after tethering Bluetooth devices. how quickly ransomware atMinimizing your Bluetooth usage reduces your exposure to vulnerabilities. Turn off your Bluetooth tacks evolve. when you are not using it. The next step to shoring up your business’ defenses is to implement a good credential-

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Featured ing process for staff, clients/ customers, and vendors. This includes establishing a strong, multifactor authentication Viruses — The term was first coined in 1983. A self-replicating and –modifying program that can “infect” process, which requires not a program or file to reproduce. only a password but another action, such as receiving a code Worms — First created in 1979 to make computers more efficient. Now these self-sustaining programs via text and entering it or anare used to replicate certain code and attack vulnerabilities in a computer system. swering specific security questions. This goes hand in hand Trojan Horses — Embedded in software and designed to perform legitimate tasks while at the same with using strong passwords, time performing an unknown activity to collect data. overall. “The industry best practice Malware — Computer code that can lock or destroy a computer or mobile device and collect personal is to create passwords from information. eight to 14 characters, using upper and lower letters, speRansomware — A form of malware that installs on a victim’s computer or mobile device and holds the cial characters, and numbers,” device’s data hostage or threatens to leak the information unless payment is received. Murray said, who recommended changing passwords Spyware — A form of malware that sits on a computer/mobile device and “spies” on users by recording every 60 to 90 days. keystrokes (such as passwords) that the attacker can then use to access the machine. Another consideration for small businesses is the use of Denial-of-Service Attack — A computer interrupts a network service by pushing high volumes of data at mobile devices, particular perthe network. Includes the subcategory, dedicated denial-of-service attack, in which a group of computsonal ones on the job. As with ers work to overwhelm a network and bring it down. in-house computer networks, mobile devices should have Phishing — Sensitive data can be acquired by an attacker imitating (spoofing) a legitimate email adsoftware and app updates dress or misdirecting the user to a fake website. installed in a timely fashion. These patches often fix potential security issues, and hackers often look for these vulnerabilities in networks. they are providing sensitive information over the phone where Murray noted that networks (computer and WiFi) can be set up someone could hear,” Murray said. for different levels of access, depending on who needs access to Next, businesses should classify that information according to its what information. Businesses should also talk with their vendors level of sensitivity. Murray suggested businesses create a data classifior other third-party clients about their own cybersecurity procation scheme that outlines which data is public information, which cesses and policies. is sensitive but used in daily business operations, and which is confi“Ask how they protect their own data and how they will protect dential, such as human resources or financial information. your data if given access to it,” Behr said.

Common Types of Cyber Attacks

Implementing a Cybersecurity Plan

With the need to protect your data from all sides, putting effective cybersecurity processes in place can seem overwhelming. To assist small businesses in implementing a thorough cybersecurity plan, the NCSA developed an introductory-level workshop based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework that focuses on five steps: 1. Identify 2. Protect 3. Detect 4. Respond 5. Recover

Identify

For this first step, businesses need to identify their critical assets. “Businesses should look at their different processes and examine how they handle data, even down to examining whether

Protect

To protect sensitive and confidential assets, businesses should also look at how they are using them and correct any bad habits. Is credit card information being sent by email? Did it go to the right person? That could lead to a serious data breach because email is generally unsecure. To put controls like the ones discussed earlier in place, businesses may need to consider hiring a third-party to come evaluate their current system to ensure they are implementing protections that best fit their business. “Again, it’s based on what you need to protect and where,” Kaiser said. “Businesses should think organizationally first. It’s a risk management approach rather than technologically.” As the human factor is such a large part of cyber incidents — these are often accidental, such as clicking on a bad link or not being aware that one shouldn’t send financial information via email — it’s important to train your employees in proper cyber etiquette. Good cybersecurity comes from building a culture of security as a course of doing business. January 2018 •

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Featured on how best to communicate a breach; this also applies to following the state’s data breach notification law and National Cyber Security Alliance: Stay Safe Online reporting the breach to law https://staysafeonline.org enforcement. For your cybersecurity re NCSA: CyberSecure My Business sponse plan, you should have For more information on the NIST framework, access to webinars and other resources. the following information in https://staysafeonline.org/cybersecure-business/ place before a breach occurs: For information on upcoming local and virtual workshops 1. Discuss data breach no https://staysafeonline.org/event_category/cybersecure-my-business/ tification requirements in the state(s) where you operate Better Business Bureau Cybersecurity with your legal counsel. https://www.bbb.org/council/for-businesses/cybersecurity/ 2. Know your reporting responsibilities (to customers, BBB Cybersecurity Quiz: Test your knowledge of cybersecurity risks law enforcement, state or fed https://www.bbb.org/globalassets/shared/media/state-of-cybersecurity/updates/ eral agencies, etc.). quiz_final-lowres.pdf 3. Know the time frame under which you must act. BBB’s 2017 State of Cybersecurity Among Small Businesses in North America 4. Know what services you https://www.bbb.org/stateofcybersecurity/ should have in place to properly respond, such as credit The No More Ransom Project monitoring services for cus For ransomware decryption codes and tools tomers or mailed notifications. https://www.nomoreransom.org/en/index.html 5. Understand the potential costs involved in responding Cybersecurity of Small Business: Slideshare presentation courtesy of Dr. Shawn Murray to a breach. https://www.slideshare.net/DrShawnPMurray/cybersecurity-for-small-business-80308090 Cyber liability insurance may help mitigate losses from data breaches due to business interruptions or network Detect damage. Behr pointed out that general liability policies typically Detecting an attack, other than ransomware, can be difficult to do not include cyber attacks. “Attacks will cost you,” he said. “A determine until you’re notified by a client or vendor who has been lot of small businesses don’t think they have an exposure to cyber affected as well. Having antivirus software or security software in attacks but they do.” place can help by notifying you of various threats, although this Recover software likely won’t be able to catch every attack as the methods This step takes a longer-term approach. Not only is it about hackers use are constantly evolving. getting back to the operational state your business was in prior to Another option is to outsource detection to network monitora data breach, but it’s also about evaluating the incident for things ing services depending on your size and what data needs to be your company can do differently going forward. Could the breach protected. have been prevented? If so, how do you improve your processes Respond so a similar incident doesn’t happen again? Even if you take as many precautions as possible, a cyber inYou also need to look beyond the incident itself to look at how cident can still happen, so how should your business respond in you can improve the overall cybersecurity of your business. By that event? Who do you call for help? Will you be under any legal following the five steps outlined above, you can put together a ramifications regarding a breach? solid plan for your company. First, you need to fix the problem to ensure no further hacks The NCSA, along with its public and private partners, is offeroccur and then determine what data has been stolen or lost. You ing a webinar series that goes through each step of this five-step also will need to determine if this will affect your business operaframework in detail. tions and for how long. In having a cybersecurity plan in place, the “People should not feel they have to be in the dark about cybergoal is be able to remain operational while you handle the breach security,” Kaiser said. “We partner with other organizations and so you don’t lose revenue — or customers. the federal government because we want to help people be smart And that’s the next step in response: communicating that about cybersecurity. you experience a cyber incident. How quickly you announce a “It’s a constantly changing environment,” he added. “If you breach may depend on what business operations were affected, haven’t gotten started on a cybersecurity plan, there’s no time like such as online ordering. It’s important to consult with a lawyer the present.

Cybersecurity Resources

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Spotlight on Innovation

Don’t Forget Energy Assistance Still Available for Your Low Income Customers

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program that issues heating

benefits to supplement a household’s annual energy cost. LIHEAP program was started in 1981 and is funded by the

federal government. LIHEAP also offers an emergency benefit for households in a heat or heat related energy emergency. In a crisis situation, in Texas, energy assistance may also help with the repair of existing heating and cooling units, purchase of portable heating/cooling units, temporary shelter, blankets, fans, generators, under conditions specified in Texas

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Administrative Code 10 TAC §6.309. In Texas, the LIHEAP program is called the Texas Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) Program. The CEAP is administered through subrecipients, which collectively cover all 254 counties of the state. Texas was allocated $106,357,361 for LIHEAP in FY 2018.The CEAP program funds will be renewed January 1, 2018. Energy bills received after January 1, 2018 may be eligible for 2018 funding. For 2018, households are eligible for up to $1,200 under utility assistance component and up to $1,200 under household crisis component and they may be eligible for an additional $3,000 for heating and cooling repair under the household crisis component Some of your customers could qualify. There are a variety of factors that play into receiving CEAP assistance: One must apply for the assistance and qualify as low income. LIHEAP income eligibility level is 150% federal poverty level. • Priority will be given to elderly, disabled, and families with young children • The assistance is not limitless (there are caps for assistance); • The assistance is determined on a case-by case basis; and

WOULD YOU LIKE TO ADVERTISE IN TEXAS PROPANE Magazine? For Advertising, contact: Joanne Pantaze at 512-273-2639 or by email at jpantaze@pvco.net

A re Y ou

GAMBLING W ith your insurance? Other propane owners have come to our agency to cover their insurance bets: 1) Most tell us they have no idea what companies insure their industry and are surprised to learn there are multiple options available; 2) Many have discovered a gap in coverage after meeting with us; 3) Some have grown frustrated with the lack of timely response and personal service from their current agent.

WWW.MARSHALLYOUNG.COM

“Before we met Rusty we didn’t know there were Insurance companies that would compete for our business. Rusty is always looking for the best options available for our business and the propane industry. He has also explained our policy coverages to us in a way that others haven’t. We recommend Rusty and Marshall Young Insurance to any owner looking for options and personal service for their business.” — Steve Johnson Owner Blue Sky Propane

How to Apply

Your customers apply for services by contacting their local CEAP service provider to obtain an application. Call Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs’ toll free line at (877)399-8939 (from a land line— not a cell phone) or call 2-1-1 and the operator will direct your customer to their local CEAP service provider. For more information, please visit http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/community-affairs/ceap.

401 N. Ridgeway Drive, Cleburne TX 76033 | 817-645-9155 MEMBER

January 2018 •

Texas Propane

15


Marketing Minute

Ring in the New Year with These Marketing Tips for Your Business

Send a New Year’s email. Several businesses send email or mail Christmas cards. Make your business stand out by sending a New Year’s message instead. It may be a better chance to get noticed. Post-New Year Promotions. Keep encouraging the holiday spending by of-

16

fering a sale or discount to your loyal customers well into the New Year. It’s still cold. It’s a great time to promote your showroom items like patio heaters, space heaters and more. Wintercue. Encourage Winter grilling with a Wintercue (Winter Barbecu-

Texas Propane • www.txpropane.com

ing) campaign. Offer sales on grills and/ or hold a Wintercue contest by having your customers share their favorite winter grilling recipes on your Facebook page. You can additionally offer coupons or discounts on grill bottle refills. New Year, New Product. The New Year is the perfect time to launch new products/product lines. This promotion idea is perfect even if you just want to relaunch a staple product. Customer Feedback. Feedback from your customers can help craft New Year’s Resolutions for your business in 2018, but it can be hard to get customers to participate. Give your customers a reason to fill out a survey or comment card by offering a percentage discount per comment card, or certain “prizes”, like an amount off their January propane bill, or a chance to win a grill.


ProCOT Corner

2017: A Year in Review Your State PERC Dollars at Work In this month’s ProCOT Corner, the Propane Council of Texas takes a look back at last year’s projects.

Over 768,000

impressions through our Proudly Propane Digital Marketing

their customers through its annual Duty to Warn Safety Mailing Program. This program has the broadest reach of all the 2017 ProCOT programs. The reason it’s so widely adopted? Jackie Mason, Education & Marketing Director, touts that ProCOT covers the large costs, the postage. With the ProCOT program, the non-profit organization alleviates that cost burden.

Over 12,000

followers on Proudly Propane Facebook Page

Recipe Calendar. Safety months covered subjects like carbon monoxide, propane safety checklist, a recipe for safer grilling, the importance of not running out of gas, residential tank basics and what to do in case of a leak. In addition to safety, the 2018 calendar featured delicious recipes from Grilled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bacon S’mores to several mouthwatering seasonal recipes. ProCOT offsets a portion of the costs of printing, as well as ships calendars at no cost.

Nearly 100,000 newsletters distributed this last quarter

The Propane Council of Texas (ProCOT) ran a digital remarketing campaign targeting consumers on the worldwide web from mid-July to midDecember. ProCOT was able to reach over three-quarters of a million people searching for energy efficient appliances, competing energy sources and over 25 other keyword search terms. A ProCOT ad would pop up redirecting them to www.proudlypropanetexas. com to learn more about propane and to the PERC Find a Propane Retailer tool.

Over 175,000 Duty to Warn safety brochures mailed

For over 10 years, the Propane Council of Texas has assisted Texas propane retailers in getting safety information to

In mid-July, the ProCOT also launched their popular Proudly Propane Facebook Campaign engaging prospective and current users of propane. The consumer marketing Facebook page shares energy efficiency tips, boasts the benefits of propane, shares recipes, holds contests and aims to educate Texas consumers about why propane should be their fuel of choice in every capacity of the home.

Nearly 67,000 calendars distributed

One of our longest running projects is the Propane Consumer Safety Tip &

The Propane Living newsletter is designed for the residential propane consumer and reminds current customers about the numerous advantages propane offers in and outside the home, as well as some sprinkled in seasonal safety information. ProCOT highlighted the versatility of propane and encouraged customer aspects of the household. The Propane Living newsletter is branded with participating propane marketers’ names and offered to marketers at a minimal cost. January 2018 •

Texas Propane

17


Inside the Industry

People in Propane Shawn Huffman with Meeder Equipment/Ransome Manufacturing Company has been promoted to Vice President. He was most recently Director of Sales & Marketing. Shawn has been in the industry for over 26 years and the last 10 with Meeder/Ransome. Steve Higginson has joined Meeder Equipment Company as Director of Sales & Marketing. He has 36 years of diversified industry experience and will be relocating to Tyler TX. Billy Wayne “Bill” Burnsed, 83, of Honey Grove, TX, passed away on November 26, 2017, surrounded by his loved ones. Mr. Burnsed worked as farmer most of his life, but also worked for Crittenden Propane and retired from McCraw Oil. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this time. Avoid the W-2 Email Scam

The IRS, state tax agencies and privatesector tax groups warned the nation’s business, payroll and human resource communities about a growing W-2 email scam that threatens sensitive tax informa-

tion held by employers. These emails may start with a simple, “Hey, you in today?” and, by the end of the exchange, all of an organization’s Forms W-2 for their employees may be in the hands of cybercriminals. This puts workers at risk for tax-related identity theft. The W-2 scam has emerged as one of the most dangerous and successful phishing attacks as hundreds of employers and tens of thousands of employees fell victim to the scheme in the past year. This scam is such a threat to taxpayers that a special IRS reporting process has been established. Because the Security Summit partners

Let the company that knows your business, protect your business

worker’s compensation • general liability • auto insurance property insurance • health insurance & employee benefits risk management services

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Member

225 S. Fifth St., Waco, TX 76701 • (800) 267-6221 • www.insurors.com 18

Texas Propane • www.txpropane.com

have successfully made inroads into stopping stolen identity refund fraud, criminals now need more information to file a fraudulent return. That means they need more accurate data about taxpayers, causing them to target tax practitioners, payroll professionals and employers. The Form W-2 contains income and withholding information necessary to file a tax return. All employers are at risk. In 2017, the W-2 scam made victims of businesses large and small, public schools and universities, as well as tribal governments, charities and hospitals. The scam, which grows larger each year, will likely make the rounds again in 2018. The Security Summit warns employers – in public and private sectors – to beware of this scheme and to educate employees, especially those in human resources and payroll departments who are often the first targets. Fleet Safety: Winter Driving in Snow

AAA has these recommendations for driving in the snow: Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads. Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly. The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop. Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball


of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal. Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it. Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible. Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill. Stay in. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors. Get more driving tips at http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/driving-advice/ winter-driving-tips.

A Look Back…1976 Bicentennial Marks Movement to the Southwest

American’s bicentennial year marked the first time that the majority of Americans lived in the South and West according to the US Census Bureau.

Charles Sheldon of McAllen proudly poses with his propane-powered 1928 Mack 750 GPM pumper.

Texas Legislator to Present Keynote at National Propane Trainer’s Conference

now to the TPGA Member Only Find a Propane Retailer Texas tool. Please complete a separate digital form

Rep. Tony Dale of the Texas House of Representatives will be delivering the keynote address at the 2018 National Propane Trainer’s Conference on January 16-17, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas. Sign up to hear from Rep. Dale and others about CSR training, state specific compliance issues, and more. See the full agenda and register now at www.txpropane.com TPGA Members Only Texas Find a Propane Retailer

It’s not too late! Help consumers find you with a new website from the Texas Propane Gas Association. Attention: TPGA Members! Submit your locations

Interesting Tidbits

Domestic sales of LP gas were expected to increase by about 6.5% during 1976 to approximately 16,654,166,000 gallons. Dual Fuel – the addition of a second fuel system to the existing gasoline carburetion system on cars and trucks continued to attract attention. The Federal Energy Administration sent out to propane dealers a publication titled A Guide to Retail Pricing of Propane. Marketers encouraged to be in compliance.

for each of your individual locations you have in Texas. This site is NEW and has not existed before now. So if you are thinking you have submitted your information before, you haven’t. Most the information TPGA has on our members is their mailing address for their main office. It is important that you complete this form with your physical address so consumers can find you. Log onto the TPGA Members Only section of www.txpropane.com to submit your locations so consumers can find you.

BAM propane Consutltants Inc. Marketing Polygrade Propylene, Refrigerant Grade Propane in addition to HD-5. We also buy and sell bulk storage tanks. Please contact us to find out about our competitive pricing.

866-867-5175 January 2018 •

Texas Propane

19


Inside the Industry You need to complete a separate form in a separate web browser tab for each manned location you have. Don’t miss out on this opportunity exclusive to TPGA members.

Tell Us Something Good

KOHLER® Expands Line of Tri-Fuel Portable Generators

Schneider Distributing Schneider Distributing spent the month of December doing good for its community, raising money for Toys for Tots. For the entire month, they donated 10 cents for every gallon of propane sold. They additionally sold breakfast burritos for a donation. Between the two promotions, Schneider Distributing raised more than $3,000 to donate. There will certainly be hundreds of community kids having a better holiday for their efforts!

Happy New Year!

Let’s start the year off right with January’s Featured Items Save 10% for the month of January

RM-18A Hazmat Decal for Propane

KOHLER is rolling out three new portable generators capable of running on gasoline, propane, and natural gas. The company’s PRO6.4, PRO6.4E, and PRO9.0E portable generators join the PRO9.0 in an expanding lineup of generators, which can be paired with the KOHLER Tri-Fuel Conversion Kit. The conversion kit, in combination with one of the company’s new tri-fuel generators, gives users the ability to select between the three fuels by simply swapping out the fuel hose and turning a dial. “Our expanding Tri-Fuel generator offering delivers unparalleled flexibility when it comes to selecting a fuel source,” said Brad Meissner, Associate Product Manager for KOHLER portable generators. “Users can now easily choose how they want to fuel their portable generators based on what’s available at home or on the jobsite. We’re excited to be expanding this lineup based on strong initial response to our KOHLER PRO9.0 TriFuel Generator, which was unveiled earlier this year.” An authorized KOHLER dealer can quickly configure the new generators with the Tri-Fuel Conversion Kit, while maintaining the product’s original warranty. For more information, please visit www. kohlerpower.com.

SM-2 Out-of-Gas/Unsafe Condition Tags

Discount valid ONLY on items listed until 1/31/18. Custom orders are excluded. In stock merchandise only. Not valid on previous purchases.

8408 North IH 35 Austin, TX 78753 800.392.0023 512.836.6112 fax sales@propaneservicecorp.com www.propaneservicecorp.com

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Texas Propane • www.txpropane.com

FOLLOW US @PropaneServCorp Propane Service Corporation

The National Propane Gas Association Scholarship Fund deadline is February 15, 2018. To learn more, see their ad on the back cover.


S OF ION R A E Y 70 ICAT R B A F K K TRUC

TAN White River Distributors, Inc. has been an industry leader since 1944, with a staff of sales professionals with over 100 years of experience to help make your purchase an easy one. We have tanks 600 to 8000 gallons, your choice of chassis. Build to your specifications. New, used, and refurbished propane bobtails, change-overs, and repairs. Financing available, delivery service available. Trade-ins Accepted. Pick up the phone and give us a call.

REFINED FUEL TANK WAGONS • PROPANE BOBTAILS VACUUM TANKS • WATER TRUCKS • OIL/WATER SEPARATORS • FRAC SAND

Contact Danny McElroy at the Southwest Sales Center Dallas, Texas 1-800-483-9971 • danmcelroy@aol.com

www.lpgbobtails.com • 1-800-548-7219

The Smart-Hose™ LP Facility Hose The Smart-Hose™ Facility Hose has all of the same attributes as the well known Smart-Hose™ for LP tank trucks that is being used by thousands of trucks on the road today to comply with HM-225 under 49 CFR 173.315 less DOT certificate to reduce cost.

Cylinder Cabinets FEATURING

2 Exceptional Material & Coatings options: Powder Coated Galvanized or Hot-Dipped Galvanized for Long Life Protection!

“The Smart-Hose Facility Hose Complies with NFPA 58, 2014 §6.19.2.6(3) Facility Hose Regulations” Features: • Hose end plunger closes automatically in the event of vehicle pull away or hose separation. • Provides for a safer work environment. • Price is comparable to standard hose assemblies lacking integral safety features.

CEC-20#-18

FCC-33#-12-YWL

CEC-20#-12

FCC-33#-12-YWL

Cabinet Features

Smart-Hose™ Lifeline 3 Open Position Smart-Hose™ Lifeline 3 Closed Position Shown with Optional Breakaway Feature

To view a demo of this product go to the GEC YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/gasequipmenttv Atlanta GA

• Tamper resistant welded frame • Shelving versatility on certain models. Can be arranged to store either 20# cylinders or 33.5# forklift cylinders. • Galvanized powder coat models are made from zinc galvanized material, then powder coated. • HD Galvanized models are hot-dipped after fabrication. • Tamper resistant lockable door for Puck Lock.

(800) 241-4155

(800) 821-1829

Dallas TX

Fayetteville NC

Houston TX

Indianapolis IN

Kansas City MO

(800) 334-7816 Little Rock AR

(800) 643-8222

(800) 241-1971

Orlando FL

(800) 821-0631

• • • • •

FCC-33#-9-HDG

Leg levelers. Loading hooks Reinforced hinges. Replacement parts available. Includes propane sign kit.

(800) 447-1625 (800) 821-5062

Richmond VA

(800) 368-4013

www.gasequipment.com

St. Louis MO

(800) 423-4685

Tracy Wells East Texas

John Percy West Texas

January 2018 •

Mike Armstrong South Texas

Texas Propane

21


Safety Talk

Safety Precautions When Filling Containers Safety Meeting with a smooth movement. Do not twist your body. Distribute the weight of the load across core muscle groups. 3 When moving heavy cylinders, use a wheeled dolly, verify good condition of securing straps, push instead of pull, and back down any ramps. ELIMINATE FIRE HAZARDS: 3 Remove all ignition sources, flam-

mable liquids, and combustible materials from the filling area. 3 Observe all precautions that apply within any Static Discharge Control Area. 3 If you notice any damaged or malfunctioning equipment that could potentially create a propane leak, immediately shut down the liquid supply system and contact your supervisor.

When filling containers, it is essential to be extremely cautious. This process can pose a number of risks. By understanding the potential hazards and following proper procedures, you can safeguard equipment and facilities and avoid personal injury. EXERCISE CAUTION WITH HOSES AND CONNECTIONS: 3 Regularly inspect hoses and fittings to ensure they are in

good condition and that there are no leaks. Check for kinks, soft spots, bulges, and wear. 3 Before connecting a hose, check the ACME threads, Orings, or gaskets for signs of wear or damage that may compromise the connection between the hose and the container. 3 Exercise caution when connecting or disconnecting a hose from a container. 3 Keep valve caps and plugs in place to protect threads and keep dirt and debris out. Never open a hose end valve if it is not securely connected to a container. 3 Propane hoses are under pressure. If a hose breaks or a connection fails, it can thrash about. Do not approach; shut off the propane supply immediately and contact your supervisor.

AVOID PERSONAL INJURY: 3 Avoid letting propane come in contact with your skin or

eyes. Always wear PPE, including gloves, safety goggles, and appropriate footwear. 3 Use good body mechanics when lifting cylinders. Keep your back straight, hold the load close, and lift at the waist level

22

Texas Propane • www.txpropane.com

KNOW AND FOLLOW EMERGENCY PROCEDURES: 3 Even though it is unlikely, it is impor-

tant to be prepared to handle any issue or potential hazard that arises while filling containers. 3 Understand how to recognize an emergency and what actions to take. 3 Know your company’s evacuation plan, and review it periodically. 3 Your safety and the safety of the people around you come first. Discussion Topics 1. Why is it important to regularly inspect hoses and connections before filling a container? 2. What are some signs of potential danger when connecting or disconnecting a dispensing hose?

LEARNING ACTIVITY Have hoses on display with various issues, both major and minor. Have participants demonstrate what to look for when inspecting, and discuss potential hazards of hose and connection issues.

For more information about safety precautions when filling containers, visit propanesafety.com. Source: Basic Plant Operations, Student Manual (PERC)



Legal Beat

Summary Judgment Denied in Propane Explosion Lawsuit on Independent Contractor and Alleged Inherently Dangerous Activity Issues By Katy Regier

A Superior Court of Connecticut judge recently denied summary judgment in a serious personal injury case arising out of a residential propane explosion involving an uncapped gas line. At the time of the explosion, the minor plaintiff was at the residence with his father, who was responding to a call about a gas odor. The plaintiff asserted negligence claims against the company that owned and serviced the propane tank, the company hired to install a propane-fueled water heater and the homeowners. In the Fratino v. Norbert E. Mitchell Co, Inc. case discussed below, the trial court analyzed the duty element of a negligence claim arising out of a propane explosion in the context of independent contractor and inherently dangerous activity claims but ultimately denied the defendant homeowners’ summary judgment motion. The Incident

John and Alice Wilkinson owned a house in New Milford, Connecticut. In the fall of 2010, the Norbert E. Mitchell Company replaced the Wilkinson’s propane tank and the connection to the home. At that time, the homeowners used propane to fuel a gas range in their kitchen. However, a separate line ran from the propane tank to the basement. The line had fueled a dryer, which was no longer in the home. Unfortunately, the unused gas line in the basement was not capped. In August 2012, about two years after the new tank was set, the Fratino Plumbing and Heating Company (Fratino) installed a propane-fueled water heater in the basement of the Wilkinson’s home. On August 29, 2012, Mr. Wilkinson came home around 5:30 p.m. and smelled

24

liver propane to the house when defendants knew, or should have known, that there was an unused, uncapped line in the basement. Plaintiff also specifically alleged as to the homeowners that Mr. Wilkinson failed to contact the fire department or the propane supplier when he smelled gas but instead, called the water heater installation company. Summary Judgment Motion

gas in the house. He called Fratino and asked for someone to come back to the house, presumably due to the gas odor. In response, Anthony Fratino came to the house bringing his minor son with him. Wilkinson and Anthony Fratino went into the basement and Wilkinson “exited” the basement soon afterwards. The house then exploded, seriously injuring Mr. Fratino’s son – the plaintiff. The trial court referenced the underlying causation issue as the existence of an open valve on the uncapped line in the basement. The Lawsuit

The plaintiff alleged negligence counts against all the defendants and an additional negligence count against the propane supplier under the Connecticut statute governing the sale of a dangerous and defective product. The plaintiff claimed his injuries were caused by the defendants’ negligent conduct as follows: (1) failure to inspect the lines running from the propane tank into the house to confirm the lines supplied only “active” appliances; (2) failure to inspect the propane system overall “to ensure any unused lines were capped;” (3) failure to cap the unused line; (4) leaving an open valve in the basement where there was an unused, uncapped gas line; and (5) continuing to de-

Texas Propane • www.txpropane.com

The homeowners filed a summary judgment motion asking the judge to rule in their favor on the negligence claims against them as a matter of law and asserting there were no disputed issues of material fact for a jury to resolve. As is well-known, the elements of a negligence cause of action come into play when negligence is asserted and a summary judgment motion is at issue; the elements are duty, breach of duty, causation and damages. Keep in mind that the little word “and” in the list of negligence elements is highly significant because a plaintiff must prove each and every element in order to prevail on a negligence claim. Conversely, if a defendant can disprove one of the four elements, then the plaintiff cannot win on a negligence claim. Here, the homeowners asserted in their summary judgment motion that they did not owe a duty to the plaintiff. Specifically, they argued that Fratino was an independent contractor who was in control of that part of the premises where the explosion occurred. Additionally, the homeowners asserted that they were not the cause of the explosion or plaintiff ’s injuries because they did not work on the propane system and did not invite the plaintiff onto the premises. Plaintiff responded to the homeown-


ers’ summary judgment motion stating, among other things, that the homeowners could be responsible for Fratino’s negligence because installing a propane-fueled water heater is an “inherently dangerous activity” and that calls into issue an exception to the general rule that an employer is not liable for the negligence of an independent contractor. The plaintiff also asserted that a genuine issue of fact existed as to whether his injuries were caused by the homeowner’s failure to call either the fire department or the propane supplier when he smelled gas in the house, rather than calling the company who installed the water heater. Trial Court’s Decision

The trial court analyzed the independent contractor issue in detail and noted that Connecticut courts have not ruled on whether activities related to propane are inherently dangerous as a matter of law. The trial court also noted that to establish they did not have a duty to the plaintiff, the homeowners would need to prove they were not in control of the premises at the time of the explosion and that the installation of the propane-fueled water heater was not inherently dangerous. The homeowners asserted in their motion that they entrusted the water heater installation to Fratino and that they had no experience with installing propane-fueled appliances. However, the homeowners did not submit any evidence on the inherently dangerous activity issue. The court noted that in opposition to the summary judgment motion, the plaintiff submitted the affidavit of a fire and explosion expert who stated that based on his review of the evidence, the level of propane in the basement was well above the lower explosion limit for propane in air, the smell of propane would have been obvious to the homeowner, and the smell clearly indicated that a risk of fire and explosion existed at that time. The court also noted that the homeowner testified in his deposition that he smelled gas when he got home as soon as he entered the kitchen on the first floor of the house. The court determined that the plaintiff ’s evidence was sufficient to create material fact issues on whether installing the water heater was an inherently dangerous activity and also whether the homeowner “was aware of the danger posed by a pro-

pane gas leak when he called Fratino to have him return to the premises.” Therefore, the trial court was unable to find that the homeowners did not owe plaintiff a duty as a matter of law. The court also stated that based on the evidence submitted on the causation element of the negligence claim, it was “unclear whether, had John Wilkinson immediately contacted the fire department or (the propane supplier), such action would have prevented the propane gas explosion that injured the plaintiff.” Accordingly, the trial court denied the homeowners’ summary judgment motion. If this matter goes to trial, the judge will instruct the jury not only on the law underlying the independent contractor and ultrahazardous activity issues, but also on the duty of a propane supplier. The jury may or may not find issue(s) with one or more of the parties’ conduct after assessing the evidence, including the credibility of the witnesses. The opinion reviewed above outlines the negligence claims against the propane supplier which centered on multiple allegations related to the failure to adequately inspect the propane system. However,

because the decision was based on the homeowners’ summary judgment motion alone, allegations as to the propane supplier were not discussed in detail. Certainly though, the facts surrounding the propane supplier’s service work at the residence with respect to setting the tank, and inspecting and testing the propane system would be closely examined during the discovery process and at trial, including testimony from the employees, service work procedures and documentation, training records and other related issues. Therefore, this decision is clearly another reminder for propane suppliers as to the importance of safety and risk management efforts at all times on a daily basis. Good risk management fosters vigilance in times of calm and instills discipline in times of crisis. – Dr. Michael K. Ong Kathryn A. (“Katy”) Regier is a shareholder in the law firm of Schlee, McMullen, McCarthy & Hansen, P.C., in Kansas City, Missouri. She can be contacted through her email address: kregier@schleelaw.com.

D.L.Morrison Welding & Construction L.P. MC 330 & 331 Transport & Bobtail Testing & Inspecting MC 330 & 331 Transport & Bobtail Repair & Re-furbish Storage Installation Compressor Repair 217 Morrison Hill Lane • Gainesville,Tx. 76240 Ricky Taylor 940-727-8608 • Mason Day 940-727-1355 Fax 940-612-2055 E-mail ricky_taylor62@yahoo.com January 2018 •

Texas Propane

25


Say

Cheese

TPGA President-Elect Jack Walzel, Tri-Co Propane; Bill Webb and Matt Terry, Pinnacle Propane, meet in Dallas for the TPGA District Ad Hoc Committee to come up with a host of ideas from continuing education to marketing for the 2018 TPGA Regional District Meeting Series.

Anna May Etheredge, Bishop Energy, and Rusty Walker, Marshall Young Insurance, attend the December 2018 TPGA Regional District Meeting Planning Committee meeting and provide insight on valuable meeting content.

TPGA Executive Director Bill Van Hoy and Bill Collins, Collins Propane, who serves as the Chairman of the TPGA District Ad Hoc Committee, met last month in Dallas to discuss a game plan for the revival of the TPGA District Meeting Series. Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance (LSCFA) Treasurer Judy Fort; LSCFA Board Members: Harris Baker, Pinnacle Propane; Jackie Mason, Propane Council of Texas; and Heather Ball, Texas Natural Gas Foundation; and LSCFA Executive Director Elizabeth Munger present Texas State Representative Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park) with the Clean Transportation Award for countless endeavors to advance alternative fuels across the state and in Central Texas. The LSCFA awards presentation was hosted by the Texas Propane Gas Association. LSCFA is Department of Energy Clean Cities Coalition representing Central Texas and beyond.

26

Texas Propane • www.txpropane.com


Exclusive Member Benefits Advocacy when it matters to your business and the propane industry

Knowledge

Timely relevant communications regarding rules, regulations from state and federal agencies

Find a Propane Retailer Coming in 2018 Customers surfing the net will find YOU

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SAVE ON: Compliance & promotional items at PSC

Emergency Response Number

Networking regional and statewide meetings, customer referrals, access to membership list

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Contact Us Today 800.325.7427 info@txpropane.com


Classifieds

Thinking of selling out? Thinking of buying a competitor? Thinking of opening a new location?

We have the resources and experience to make your thoughts a reality. 817-615-8393 • 800-267-9311 • www.alamocorporategroup.com

Garrett Insurance Agency, Inc Formerly, Southern Star Insurance Agency, Inc Cecil Joiner, Risk Manager cecil@garrettinsurance.com 1-800-545-2565 www.garrettinsurance.com

PetroStar Equipment Resources Purchase & Sale Pre-Owned Propane Tanks 5,000 gallons to 120,000 gallons FOR SALE (1) 13,500 gallon, 250 psi, Atlas Tank (2) 30,000 gallon, 250 psi, Mississippi Tank Contact: Jim Oliver (936) 755-6108 petrostar@pdq.net

RAILROAD COMMISSION APPROVED TRAINING 1.1 Introduction to Propane 2.1 Dispenser Operations— DOT/ASME Refueling 2.3 Bobtail Operations and Delivery 3.3 Appliance Conversion 3.8 RV Technician Your place or mine. Call for pricing. Jack Harrison • 210-680-5096 propanesystems@gmail.com

HAZMAT Training Now Available Your place or mine. Call for pricing. Jack Harrison • 210-680-5096 propanesystems@gmail.com

For Sale Used Bobtail Barrels 2-2600 wg 1-2400 wg Contact: 800-852-4641

Prent@longhornpropane.com or Latisha@longhornpropane.com, 830-964-2525

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Texas Propane • www.txpropane.com


Calendar January

1 TPGA office closed for New Year’s Day 9-11 NAHB International Builders Expo Orlando, FL 16-17 National Propane Trainer’s Conference San Antonio, TX 18-19 NPGA Benchmarking Council (Groups A-F) West Palm Beach, FL 22-24 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) Chicago, IL 25-26 NPGA Benchmarking Council (Groups G-L) West Palm Beach, FL

Index to Advertisers February

11-13 NPGA Board of Directors Meeting Santa Barbara, CA 13-15 World Ag Expo Tulare, CA

BAM 19 BLT Tanks 23 Cunningham Gas Products 16 D. L. Morrison Welding 25 Gas Equipment Company 21

14 PERC Council Meeting Santa Barbara, CA

Insurors of Texas 18

15 NPGF Scholarship Deadline

Longhorn Propane 28

19 TPGA office closed for President’s Day

March

Lone Star Energy Group 14

Lumbermen’s Insurance Agency 5 Marshall Young Insurance 15 Meeder Equipment Co. 13

6-7 TPGA Board & Related Committee Meetings Austin, TX

Pinnacle Propane Inside Front Cover

30 TPGA office closed for Good Friday

White River Distributors 21

Propane Service Corporation 20

COMING This Space could be yours

Next Issue

This Space could be yours

Grow Gallons with Commercial Mowers January 2018 •

Texas Propane

29


Propane With Purpose

Coming This Year to the U.S., Propane-Powered Cinderella Toilet

Cinderella USA announced in spring of 2017 that it is expecting approvals to sell its propane-powered model in 2018. They are currently collecting contact information for those interested in the product for when it is released. Cinderella is one of the largest manufacturers of luxury incineration toilets in the world. The Scandinavian company entered the U.S. market last spring with their electric products and hoping to have the propane version available soon. An incineration toilet is a toilet in which waste products, urine and excrement, are incinerated at a high temperature, leaving only an insignificant amount of ash. The waste is burned in an enclosed combustion chamber, and the resulting gases are expelled outside the room through a separate vent pipe. In contrast with other toilet systems, incineration toilets constitute a total waste solution, eliminating all waste on site, without the need for transportation elsewhere or processing over time until safely released or removed. When used properly, quality incineration toilets are odorless, hygienic and safe, providing an experience similar to usual water-based toilet systems. One simply inserts a simple bowl liner, uses the toilet as usual then presses a button or lever to evacuate and incinerate the waste. Quality incineration toilets exist with the necessary safety and hygiene protections to be suitable for families with children and pets.

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Texas Propane • www.txpropane.com

Available around the world for decades, incineration toilets are a commonly used alternative in arctic stations, mountain cabins, remote areas, tiny homes, off-grid structures and other residential and commercial applications without easy access to public utilities. Since incineration toilets do not require the installation of a water supply or costly septic systems, and do not demand ongoing and messy work to process waste, their slightly higher unit price is heavily offset by lower maintenance over time, providing a substantially lower total cost of ownership than other solutions, both in terms of money and headache. Several types of incineration toilets are sold around the world, using both electricity and gas as the energy source powering their combustion. Depending upon your application, different energy sources may make more sense. “We are aware that many customers are anxious to purchase Cinderella Gas for their tiny homes, cabins and other off-grid applications”, said Cinderella USA president Ken Daniells. “I’d like to thank these customers for their patience and reassure them that we are working very hard to bring them this outstanding product as quickly as possible.” “Cinderella has been the best incineration toilet in the world for decades because of a commitment to incorporate the best technology available into each model. As part of this ongoing process, Cinderella Gas is now completing a planned enhancement to upgrade its burner mechanism.”


TexasPropane THE MAGAZINE FOR THE TEXAS PROPANE GAS ASSOCIATION

2018 Rate CaRd www.tfda.com

The Official Publication of the Texas Funeral Directors Association

TexasPropane June 2017

Volume 73 No. 6

T H E M AG A Z I N E F O R T H E T E X A S P R O PA N E G A S A S S O C I AT I O N

Unlock Gallons With Residential Reports for Your Area

SpicingUp Off-Season Sales with Showrooms Innovative Propane Products for Your Showroom

Texas Propane is the official publication of the Texas Propane Gas Association and is the only publication geared exclusively toward the Texas propane industry. Each month, Texas Propane reaches over 1,000 propane industry leaders. TPGA member companies sell about 80 percent of the retail propane sold in Texas to residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and fleet customers, providing an effective platform to market your products. Space is limited. Reserve your spot today. Black and White Rates, Per Issue

Advertising sAles

Joanne Pantaze 512-273-2639 phone

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Color 4-color can be added to any size ad for an additional 30% of space rate.

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Classified Advertising Rates

Kimberly scheberle Sail House Publishing

Words Rate per Word 20 minimum . . . . . . . . . .$1/word Pictures and logos can be added for a small additional charge. Call for custom pricing.

512-346-0892 phone kscheberle@austin.rr.com email 3510 Crowncrest Drive Austin, TX 78759

Discounts TPGA members receive an additional 5% off all listed rates. All rates are net; no advertising agency discounts available.

Closing Dates Space reservations for both display and classified advertising are due a month before the publication date. For example, a reservation for the February issue is due January 1. Artwork is due five working days after the reservation deadline.


National Propane Gas Foundation Scholarship Fund Education. Success. Scholarship.

Planning for your child’s college fund?

Apply Now for a NPGF Scholarship Visit www.npga.org/scholarship to learn more about available scholarships.

Applications open on September 15. Completed applications must be submitted by February 15 of the following year. Successful applicants will be notified by May.