Propane distributors say prices are stabilizing

By KBJR News 1

February 4, 2014 Updated Feb 4, 2014 at 11:45 AM CDT

The propane shortage has people digging deeper into their pockets and cutting back on heat during this cold winter.
But there's a silver lining.
Some propane distributors say prices may stabilize soon.

The propane shortage has been so bad that both Governors of Wisconsin and Minnesota have sought federal assistance to help those in need.
With prices at nearly five dollars a gallon it's been a stressful winter for those desperately needing heat in their home.

"We've had to pay almost three hundred dollars more for propane to heat my house." Said Dena Brown, Propane Consumer.
Dena Brown was one of many who applied for heating assistance because her heating bill was through the roof.

"We go through more of it even though our thermostat is set down to 68 and if we go down any further, we're gonna be cold." Said Brown.
But the worst may be over as prices are trending back down.
Distributors say the spike in prices went on too long.

"Overall, we just feel it's been overdone. The markets are actually trending back to where they belong for the supply and demand curve that we see, because we don't think five dollars propane was ever realistic." Said Joe Stariha, Co-President of Como Oil and Propane.
Joe Stariha of Como Oil and Propane says more propane was used in the Midwest this winter than ever before and the infrastructure couldn't handle the demand.

Stariha also says that exports have also been a contributor to the shortage and that domestic use will go up now that prices are on par with exports.

"That's also why you see a little bit of an influx of propane in our systems because as propane gets to a certain price, domestically, they start selling it here instead of overseas." Said Stariha.
But as markets sway back into normalcy, the damage... in many cases... has already been made to people's pocketbooks.

While everything is weather dependent, Como Oil and Propane officials have said prices should stabilize through March and will likely be back to normal in late May or Early June.

Bryce Henry
bhenry@kbjr.com