Price of propane is only part of the problem

Published 01/22 2014 04:17PM

Updated 01/22 2014 05:19PM

ILLINOIS -- Another day of bitter cold has millions in the Midwest wondering how they're going to heat their homes. Propane suppliers and their customers are feeling the pinch from a propane shortage. George Howell talks with an Illinois supplier who is trying to keep up with the demand.

"I've been doing this for, it's the family business. They trust us to take care of them. Sure, I'm getting them gas, but how are they going to afford to pay for this?"

Concerned about supplying his customers they propane they need to stay warm in this bitter cold snap, Jerry Dauparas is caught in the middle. His company is struggling to get enough supply to meet daily demands. And, as prices continue to go up, he knows many of his customers can't afford it.

"I have to pay the bill too to my suppliers. So, yeah, it's emotional. I mean, it's not easy telling somebody, it's expensive."

Weather is only part of the reason for the shortage. Last year's corn crop is partly to blame. The robust fall meant producers needed more propane to fuel heaters to dry the crop.

Then, there's the issue of greater exports. Some say that's also crimping propane supplies. As a result, prices have all but doubled.

More than two dozen states have issued emergency declarations to ease restrictions on propane drivers to get more of it on the road to places which need it. Industry leaders are looking for more solutions.

"We have reached out to the pipeline association here in Washington to bring to their attention the severity of the situation to try to expedite the shipment. We've also reached out to the railroad association and urged them to expedite all rail deliveries."

But, with winter in full effect, this propane retailer knows the dynamics of supply and demand don't make that much of a difference when the people he knows are just trying to keep their homes warm. So, he explains it as best he can.

"We're doing our best to get the product. I mean it, um, we're doing our best."

More than 14 million families in the U.S. use propane to fuel their furnaces.

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