With arctic temperatures and unpredictable weather, a nationwide propane shortage couldn’t have come at a worse time. Over 500,000 residents of Indiana have to nurse the propane they have left until they are able to get more.
Indiana is one of 24 states declaring emergencies and Governor Mike Pence insisted that the shortage is now a crisis.
On Jan. 14, 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation declared a state of emergency for the Midwest, waiving hours of service limitations to ensure consumers can steadily receive home heating fuels that remain in unusually high demand. The exemption is set to expire on Feb. 11, 2014, but lawmakers are requesting an extension beyond Feb. 11 if necessary to ensure there is no disruption to delivery assistance for Hoosiers. Due to a variety of factors ranging from seasonal weather patterns to distribution challenges, upper Midwest propane inventories are already low.
National supplies of propane were depleted by a late harvest that increased demand from farmers who needed to dry an unusually large amount of grain before storage. As colder-than-normal temperatures spread across much of the country, supplies dropped to the lowest level ever during the second week of January. Trucks are having a hard time delivering the fuel because there has been a delay due to road conditions and the intense weather that many states are facing.
Kevin Disbro of Terhune Propane says the only change he has seen so far is price.
“Price wise yes, I am seeing a change but as far as supply, I haven’t seen it yet,” Disbro said. “We have an awesome supplier and transportation and we haven’t faced many issues because of this. We are not filling as much as we should with helps with conserving. We also have to travel a little farther to get propane. I know many places around the Midwest are seeing this worse than we are. We just need to make sure you turn your furnace down, don’t take longer in the shower than needed and use only what you need to while cooking if you’re using propane. It’s tough for people with the prices being at almost five dollars a gallon.”