Region Feeling Pinch from High Propane Prices

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Andy Shofstall

WSIL --  Winter has hit hard this year. It's driving up the demand for propane in many northern and eastern states. Local customers are also finding the prices tough to handle.

"We get spoiled on mild winters," said AmeriGas District Manager Bill DePriest. 
 
The cold days have been packed with propane deliveries for AmeriGas in Harrisburg.
 
"People when it gets cold, they don't like their tank to get as low as they normally would," said DePriest. "They know its going to burn up quicker."
 
The cost of that gas is coming as bit of a shock for some customers. DePriest says prices have roughly doubled since the summer. 
 
It's all part of a nationwide spike in prices DePriest saw creeping up earlier last year. 
 
"They started funneling a lot of it into the southeast so that they could export it out through the Gulf Coast," said DePriest. 
 
The region's record corn harvest only drove up the demand. Farmers needed propane to dry the crop. 
 
The harvest was followed by long stretches of freezing temperatures.
 
"All of these three things together really put a crunch on the inventories," said DePriest. 
 
Although tanks have been low a few times, DePriest is confident that they'll have enough for all of their 3,000 customers.
 
"We have supply departments that look at our inventories everyday and decide when to bring what loads in," said DePriest. 
 
Many of the propane shipments come in from the St. Louis area. However, the supplier for Southern FS in Marion is now traveling much farther.
 
"We get a few loads," said Propane Marketing Manager Guy Kuhn. "But we're having to outsource the rest of them to Conway, Kansas or Hattiesburg, Mississippi."
     
Kuhn calls this winter a challenge. FS drivers have been taking gas to people in twelve counties.
 
"We're using anywhere from 10 to 14 transport loads of propane a week," said Kuhn. "A transport load is about 9,200 gallons."
 
None of those customers have gone without. However, Kuhn is considering smaller deliveries to help them handle the big cost.
 
"You know wait this thing out," said Kuhn. "Maybe the prices can come back down."
 
The Department of Transportation has issued an emergency declaration. That order is for most of the midwest, including Illinois. It allows drivers delivering propane to work longer hours.
Marion Regional
Current: 66°
Clear
High: 75°
Low: 43°
Wind: 5 MPH
Pressure: 0.00
Humidity: 40 %

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