A propane shortage is presenting a potentially dangerous situation for families across the midwest and northeast this week. Meteorologists are predicting another extreme week of cold weather, much like the polar vortex induced storm earlier this month.
The propane shortage will be such a big deal because approximately 6 million americans use the fuel to heat their home. But the first storm this month left reserves depleted and have been unable to fill back up due to more inclement weather. The price of propane is skyrocketing as well. Average national prices topped out at $2.86, more than 17 percent higher than last year at this time, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
17 different states have declared a state of emergency this month according to NBC News. Ohio was the most recent state to ask for help in light of the propane shortage. Governor John Kasich, looking ahead to this week, declared an energy related state of emergency. The hope is to relax regulations to expedite the delivery of propane on the railroad system. His hope is the decree “will help get propane companies resupplied so Ohioans who use propane to heat their homes can stay warm.”
With less land and less opportunities to store propane, the shortage is hitting the New England states very hard. New Jersey Chris Christie declared a state of emergency to get propane quicker, but also to speed up the delivery of salt. Salt is typically used to take care of icy roads. Temperatures got so low earlier this month, the salt actually froze. Road workers had to turn to using sand in the place of salt.
The propane shortage is due to a lot more than the cold. Midwest corn crops exceeded expectations in 2013. Farmer use propane to dry the crops for shipping and preparation. The high crop required farmers to use more propane than normal. Combined with the number of storms being experienced across the country this winter, propane is at a premium.
If you are experiencing a propane shortage, officials suggest watching your gauges carefully and to conserve as much as possible. The newest storm is expected to pass by the end of the week.