Cold snap heats up demand for propane, creating shortage
Posted January 27, 2014
Apex, N.C. — A shortage of propane has swept the country after unprecedented usage in the past several months.
The shortage is due, in part, to the recent spells of bitterly cold weather across the Midwest and Northeast in recent weeks, but a wet summer last year also was to blame, as farmers used propane to power machines to dry out their crops, according to John Jessup, executive director of the North Carolina Propane Gas Association.
"Crop drying in the Midwest and the cold weather, with the arctic vortexes that have been coming down, have sucked a lot of the propane out of the country," Jessup said Monday.
Propane suppliers around the Triangle said prices have jumped as much as $1.30 a gallon in the past week. That could add $430 to the cost of filling an average-sized tank for home heating.
On Sunday, the Dixie Pipeline in Apex reduced the amount of propane it supplies to area companies because of the shortage.
"Only the people who use it during the year are able to pull off the pipeline right now," Jessup said.
Even those distributors aren't getting as much as they've requested.
Mike Davis, the owner of Triangle Propane Service, said he got only half of his order filled.
"Then, you have to make the decision of who's going to get gas and who isn't," Davis said.
Dixie Pipeline officials said they would allow distributors to obtain more propane Tuesday morning.
With more cold expected in the next few weeks, Jessup said he expects the propane supply will get tighter before it improves.