Propane Prices Hitting Record Levels

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Published on January 24 2014 2:47 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Area residents who use propane to heat their homes are being hit hard by increase in prices to record levels. The increase comes at exactly the wrong time with temperatures the coldest of the winter.

Spot prices jumped to nearly five dollars a gallon Thursday at a regional distribution hub in Conway, Kansas. Propane prices were up eight cents a gallon Thursday from the day before at a key Gulf Coast distribution center in Texas.

Analysts say tight supplies and plunging temperatures are driving the spike in prices. New figures released Thursday by the Energy Administration show the nation's propane inventory fell by 10% to about 35 million barrels last week.

One of our listeners, Jim Treat, lives south of Effingham and told us this morning via Facebook that, "I'm paying over $500 for 100 gallons of propane today", from FS South Central. Jim said it "caught me off guard."

Doug McDevitt of Effingham Equity today said that there is a supply of propane in the United States; it's just not in the areas of the country being hardest-hit by the arctic weather.  McDevitt said it's a distribution problem.  He said a facility in Ohio typically can serve 300 semis a day, but it's flooded.  

McDevitt said he's seen tanker trucks in our area from Vermont and other New England states looking for supplies of propane. He said of the supply of propane, "it's all in the wrong locations."

In the meantime, McDevitt urges propane customers to monitor their tanks. He said Effingham Equity usually has a "keep full" policy where their drivers will go by and top off the tanks of their customers, but said that isn't possible at present. He also encourages customers to use safe alternative sources of energy such as electric heaters and wood burning stoves to reduce their dependence on propane.