Homeowners feel sting of propane shortage

Published 11:41am Friday, January 24, 2014

As costs skyrocket, Midwesterners who heat their homes with liquid petroleum and distributors who deliver it are increasingly upset — perplexed while nothing has stopped the freewheeling propane prices.

In early January, homeowners noticed their bills had risen significantly because of the Midwest’s propane shortage. The extremely cold temperatures led to extra propane consumption to heat homes, but in the past few days, the situation got out of control, according to distributors and industry experts. One local distributor is very upset.

“It’s just unbelievable, out of control,” said Randy Stephenson, manager of Dexter Elevator in Dexter, Minn.

Dexter Elevator has received only a fraction of the propane it normally gets from fill stations. While Dexter Elevator normally replenishes its supply every day, the past few weeks have been spotty.

Furthermore, the shortage has put a big dent in consumers’ checkbooks. When the price crept well above $2 earlier this week, it was the highest many had ever paid for propane. Then it doubled again. Stephenson charged nearly $4 per gallon of propane on Wednesday. Others had already surpassed that.

Warmer weather would ease the strain; however, the National Weather Service calls for more frigid conditions. Distributors aren’t sure when the shortage and price spikes will stop.

Look for more on the propane shortage and its local effects in Sunday’s Herald.


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