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Propane Prices Rise As Supply Tightens

Single digit temperatures, a recent rise in propane prices, and tightness in supply are causing complications for some in the Midwest relying on propane to heat their homes.
(SPRINGFIELD, Mo.) Single digit temperatures tonight, a recent rise in propane prices, and tightness in supply are causing complications for some in the Midwest relying on propane to heat their homes.

Heather Becker and her family rely on propane to heat their home.  They say the rise in price and cold weather are now leading to propane problems.

"They've been complaining that it's a little cold in the house.  But I'm like, you know, you can put on more clothes you don't need to run around in your shorts in the winter time," she said.

As the temperatures fall, families like Heather's, are watching their propane tank capacity decrease. 

"My husband said last week it was around 40 percent," she added. 

Propane workers say will-call customers like Heather should call when their propane tank gets to 35 perecent capacity.  Otherwise, customers may run out of propane because companies have so many deliveries to make right now. 

"I know a couple weeks ago when it got into the really negative weather, I had some friends that were actually really low and their gas company wasn't able to get to them until the Friday after the cold spell. So, you really do have to call ahead I value that," said Becker.

Simon Bowman with the propane company, AmeriGas, says wholesale costs are up to $1.50 per gallon.  That's about a 60 percent increase since last year.  As a result, consumers, like Heather, are paying a higher price.  

"Right now it's ranging $2.99.  So even to get 100 gallons in my 250 gallon tank would be $300," adds Becker.

Bowman attributes this to a rise in demand. 

"The U.S. has been exporting more propane to other countries, mainly Central America, South America and Europe.  Secondly, we had a very heavy crop drying season so we had an abundant crop and it was also a wet crop.  Wet crops require a lot of propane to dry them," explains Bowman. 

Propane demand rises further with a bitter cold winter.  Plus there's a tightness in supply.

"It's mainly a shortage in the Midwest and Northeast, mainly because inventories were already brought down.  Secondly, two pipelnes were out of service," explains Bowman.

Bowman stresses how important propane safety is, especially with these cold temperatures. If you smell gas or detect a leak, call your propane supplier immediately.
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