The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

January 25, 2014

Propane shortage creating problems

A long cold snap keeps running up, the demand for energy and one popular fuel in the rural areas is becoming increasingly hard to find. Officials throughout the Midwest and Northeast are declaring emergencies because of a shortage of propane.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence has issued an emergency proclamation waiving statutes that limit the number of hours for propane transporters to help suppliers meet the demands of customers. The order runs through the end of the month.

“As fellow Hoosier feel the impact of recent propane shortages and near-record low temperatures, I urge the people of Indiana to conserve their own propane supply as much as possible, to reach out to their neighbors, and look out for each other,” said Pence. “With the shortage and weather conditions expected to continue, I also urge the federal government to exhaust all possible means to assist and help alleviate the supply issues currently faced across the Midwest.”

The shortage is being felt in Daviess County. “We can’t get any product,” said Steve Myers with Myers LP Gas.

“About 80 percent of our supply comes from plants in Princeton and Robinson, Illinois. It’s all dried up. Where we used to be able to get five to six loads, now we are lucky to get one.”

Experts say the shortage is the result of a trio of events. Early this fall, propane producers began exporting the fuel to other countries driving stocks down to their lowest levels since 1996. Then came a large corn crop that was harvested late and put up wet. Farmers began buying large amounts of propane to dry down their corn and supplies fell to the lowest level since 1991.

Now, large parts of the country are in an extended cold snap that is one of the worst the country has seen in 20 years. The demand for propane has continued to rise at a time when suppliers can’t keep up. “You take all of those things together now and it’s created a perfect storm for a propane shortage,” said Myers. “We’re doing a lot of short drops now. We can only let out a little at a time.”

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