Propane shortage causes prices to spike

By KBJR News 1

January 23, 2014 Updated Jan 24, 2014 at 1:47 AM CDT

Duluth, Minn (NNCNOW.com) - Propane users across the Northland are feeling the pain of higher prices with the cost per gallon nearly doubling over the past week.

It's estimated roughly 34,000 homes across the Northland run on propane and with high demand and even higher prices, its causing some big problems.

"I've been with Como for 18 years and I've never seen anything like this."

Joe Stariha, Co-President of Como Oil and Propane is talking about the price of propane, reaching historic prices, and it keeps getting higher.

"It skyrocketed again today, we're looking at about a 140 percent increase in the last two weeks," said Stariha.

The propane problem is being blamed on a wet crop harvest last year, a brutal start to this winter and high demand all round, and Stariha worries it might only get worse.

"Propane is in the high four dollar range and possibly by next week in the five dollar range per gallon," said Stariha.

And it's the same story at Superior Fuel Company, they're encouraging their customers to find other ways to heat their homes.

"We're looking at people's cost to heat their homes doubling, tripling, quadrupling. I'm actually telling friends and family to go out and buy electric heaters because the cost of gas, I don't know how people are going to pay for it," said Ryan Gunderson, Vice-President, Superior Fuel Company.

The problem is not only impacting customers, the suppliers say they're losing money due to the record high prices.

"We're losing money due to these high prices, it's not our fault on the retail level, it's up the food chain the big supply companies they're the ones who set the price, were stuck buying it at these high prices and trying to deliver to our customers," said Gunderson.

With no relief in sight, suppliers say to keep tabs on your tanks and make time to find other heating options.

The Northland is not alone, 25 other states are under a price hike and supply shortage. Experts say these prices have yet to peak.

Federal assistance is available for households with incomes at or below 50 percent of the state's average income.

For more information on federal energy assistance, click here.

Jeremy Brickley
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