A national propane shortage has begun to impact prices for Kentucky suppliers.
“Our cost has gone up, and we have to pass it on to customers,” said Alton Addington, manager of Propane Energy Partners, a subsidiary of Warren Rural Electric Cooperative Corp.
The company gets its propane from Miles LP Gas in Owensboro.
“The weather has played a part in the (increase), but nobody has mentioned anything about the other factor,” said Mitch Vanover, manager of Miles. “Back in September, they applied with the Department of Energy to re-purpose the Enterprise Pipeline from ... Texas to New England to ship shale oil from up north to down south. In this area, that cut our production of (propane) in half.
“I do know some of the suppliers have cut poultry farms completely off,” Vanover said.
“The retail price has gone up tremendously,” he said. “It’s gone up from about $1.99 to $3.19 a gallon fairly quickly.”
Not only are consumers faced with higher prices, they are using more propane than they are used to.
“It is difficult weather because we really haven’t seen this in 20 years or so,” Vanover said.
Jane Miller, a co-owner of Miller’s Bottled Gas in Bowling Green, said she gets frequent calls from customers who reach their 20 percent level on their tanks.
“That’s when they are supposed to call us,” Miller said. “The last two and half weeks, it has really picked up.”
Miller said she also is getting calls from new customers who aren’t able to get propane from their traditional suppliers.
“I don’t want anybody to panic because we are still able to get propane,” she said. “We are just having to go a lot further to get it and pay more for transportation.”
Like Miles, Miller’s is getting its propane from North Carolina.
Because of the distance hauling and the long waits at the terminals for fill-ups, Kentucky and many other states have lifted the hours of service restriction for propane haulers.
“They might be waiting 15 to 20 hours at the pipeline to load,” she said.
Miller is selling propane for $3.19 a gallon but gives people a discount for paying within seven days. She is still able to provide service to customers; it just may take a few days to get there.
Phone calls to Gasper River Propane and Gas in Auburn went unanswered. The Office of the Attorney General has received one formal complaint regarding Gasper River Propane and Gas and has received several complaints regarding Gasper River’s parent company, UPG, according to Allison Martin, spokeswoman for the Attorney General.
“We have been in contact with UPG about consumer complaints,” Martin said in an email. “First, there is a propane shortage nationwide. That propane shortage is affecting UPG’s ability to service its customers. For customers who need a waiver from the company to have a tank filled (by another company), they may call UPG headquarters at 800-874-4427. If customers are not able to obtain a waiver or feel UPG is not being responsive, they may call they Kentucky Petroleum and Gas Association at 502-875-2686.”