MADISON, Wis. -

Gov. Scott Walker is urging thousands of households that receive state heating assistance to file applications for help with propane costs quickly.

Wisconsin and other Midwestern states grappled with a profound propane shortage toward the end of last winter due largely to extended periods of frigid weather, a pipeline closure and heavy propane demand for drying grain.

Walker's office said in a news release Friday that similar factors could be in play again this winter. His administration says it will start processing applications for help with propane costs from households that participate in the Wisconsin Heating and Energy Assistance Program now rather than when the program begins in October. WHEAP officials will use the applications to estimate customer benefits and lock in at lower summer prices.