Propane supply, prices improving

by Sarah Fay Campbell

The propane gas shortage and prices have eased somewhat since late January, but prices are still high, and supplies are still low nationwide.

Two weeks ago, propane supplies were so low that some local companies were rationing the gas, which is used for home heating in areas not served by natural gas, and prices were fluctuating every day.

On Wednesday, prices offered by Coweta companies ranged from $2.99 to $4.18 per gallon.

Two companies were offering the same price they were offering on Feb. 6. One company’s rate was down 50 cents per gallon, and one was up 20 cents per gallon. The employee contacted at the highest-priced propane company said she expects prices to “drop any day.”

On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission used its emergency authority to order the country’s largest propane pipeline operator to prioritize supplies on its line.

The commission ordered the pipeline company, Enterprise Energy Partners, to allocate “available capacity” on its pipeline for propane shipments, according to The Associated Press.

This is the first time the FERC has used its emergency authority under the Interstate Commerce Act, according to AP.

Also on Friday, Vermont’s congressional delegation asked the Obama administration to temporarily curb propane exports, as a way of reducing prices and improving supply, according to the “Burlington Free Press."

“Demand for propane has risen significantly in recent months, driven by crop drying activities in the Midwest and the current cold weather gripping much of the country,” it is stated in the letter. “However, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, propane production is at an all-time high and domestic production far exceeds domestic demand.”

“We urge you to act quickly to temporarily restrict propane exports to increase the domestic supply of propane, which will help reduce the financial burden on poor and middle-class families across the country during this particularly cold winter,” the delegation wrote in a letter to Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on Tuesday.

The Export Administration Act allows the commerce secretary to prohibit or curtail exports of any goods when needed to “protect the domestic economy from the excessive drain of scarce materials and to reduce the serious inflationary impact of foreign demand,” according to Sen. Bernie Sanders in a prepared statement. “The current propane crisis clearly meets those criteria and warrants this urgent and decisive action."



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