On Monday, Governor John Kasich issued a ‘statewide energy emergency’ to deal with slowdowns in propane deliveries. Weather conditions and other factors are causing problems for fuel suppliers and their customers, and the governor’s declaration will allow propane and heating oil transporters to drive for more hours and more consecutive days than current regulations permit.
Propane production is actually up in the U.S. over the last five years, so the problem isn’t a shortage, it’s getting the gas to where it’s needed.
In Ohio and other parts of the midwest, cold weather has caused demand to spike this year. Dave Wedderburn, Vice-President and General Manager of Collett Propane in Xenia, says slow supplies have forced them to make changes.
“We’re actually trying to short-fill the tanks, which means that we’re not going to fill them to full capacity," he said. "We want to spread it around, make sure that everybody gets something.”
Collett Propane has also put a temporary halt to selling propane for gas grills and forklifts so that available supplies can go directly to customers heating their homes, and Wedderburn thinks the governor's emergency declaration might help. “We’ll have the transportation to get it delivered if we can just find the propane,” he said.
The Ohio Propane Gas Association says inventories have been low in the Midwest this winter following a long harvest season during which an excess of wet crops had to be dried for storage, a heating process that uses a lot of propane. That consumption in the late fall, compounded with the extreme cold and logistical hurdles in transporting propane this winter, mean that Ohio's propane distributors still don't have what they need when they need it.
A total of 30 midwestern and eastern states have relaxed transportation restrictions on fuel suppliers this winter.