Propane companies throughout Kentucky are facing a supply shortage as demand increases with the arctic cold. Shortages have caused local suppliers to begin rationing the amount of fuel residents can buy at a time.
Companies are also facing problems with infrastructure as trucks and railcars have been unable to make deliveries during the hazardous winter conditions.
But Kentucky Propane Gas Association Executive Director Jay McCants says the shortage isn’t completely related to the cold.
“There are also a couple of different issues with the early crop last fall and the record corn crop, not just in Kentucky but all over the country," said McCants. "There was a lot of grain drying that went on, that uses propane as well.
"And the last thing is that the United States a few years ago became a net exporter of propane, now we’re exporting fuel that we desperately need here. So it’s a confluence of events that has caused this crisis, you can’t point your finger at one thing."
Earlier this month, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet lifted the Hours of Service restrictions for fuel truck drivers until the crisis over. The rest of the region is also experiencing delays in propane deliveries.
McCants says although prices have risen to as much as $3 a gallon, the market should stabilize as the weather warms.
McCants asks propane customers to arrange for deliveries early when their tanks read 35% to ensure that suppliers are able to provide service in a timely manner. Allowing a tank to fall below that level increases the chances of running out. Also, understand that propane marketers may limit deliveries to a certain amount instead of completely filling tanks in order to stretch the current supply and service more customers.
He says next year, local distributors need to forecast future supply shortages before buying propane in the summer and residents shouldn't wait as long to report low tanks before refills.