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Propane Education & Research Council
Propane Education & Research Council Statement on Propane Transportation Issues
WASHINGTON (January 22, 2014) — Keeping customers and employees safe and warm is our industry’s highest priority. In some areas of the U.S., extreme weather and transportation issues have made propane hard to come by. Yet the men and women who deliver propane along icy roads and pull heavy hoses through deep snow are doing everything they can to reach the millions of Americans who need it.
To be clear, the supply of propane is not a problem. In fact, the United States is producing more propane now than at any time in decades. The real problem is getting propane from where it’s stored to where it is needed. The industry is mobilizing to meet this challenge.
• Propane drivers, suppliers, and customer service representatives have been working around the clock to make propane deliveries as quickly as possible.
• All available transport tankers, delivery trucks, railcars, barges, and pipelines are being mobilized. Ships with propane cargos are moving into Northeast ports.
• The National Propane Gas Association and the nation’s 3,000 propane companies are working closely with state and federal authorities to facilitate the movement of propane.
We know customers, businesses, and communities have questions about who is affected and how long the supply problem will last. PERC offers the following answers and recommendations.
How many states have a propane shortage right now? The supply of propane is not the issue. The real problem for many states is transporting propane from where it’s stored to where it’s needed. Federal and state authorities have executed orders to facilitate the shipment of propane in 30 states, including lifting hours-of-service exemptions. States in the Midwest and the East are experiencing a large spike in demand due to extreme weather patterns and cold temperatures.
Why is this happening? As demand has spiked during this extreme cold, several factors have hurt the industry's ability to distribute propane:
• An unexpectedly high demand for propane for grain drying last fall depleted local inventories in the upper Midwest heading into winter.
• A major pipeline in the upper Midwest shut down in December.
• The sharp increase in oil and natural gas production has created unprecedented competition for access to pipelines and rail cars.
• Local opposition has prevented or slowed building increased propane storage in some communities, including the hard-hit Northeast.
How many people in the U.S. rely on propane for heating? A 2011 study by ICF International estimated that approximately 6 million households use propane as their primary heating fuel.
How many of those are in the affected states? The 2011 ICF study estimated that there are about 3.9 million households that use propane as their primary heating fuel in the 30 states under an hours-of-service exemption.
Might the shortage get worse over the winter? Weather is unpredictable. The propane industry is working around the clock to move propane from where it is stored to where it is needed.
What can I do to keep my family warm? Propane customers should take some important steps to ensure their families are taken care of:
1. Call your propane retailer to schedule a delivery when the percentage gauge reads 35 percent. This gives propane companies time to schedule the delivery, without the threat of severe weather slowing them down.
2. Use energy wisely and conserve propane when you can.
3. Never bring an outdoor grill inside for heating or cooking. They are made for outdoor use only and pose a safety risk when used indoors.
4. Prepare for propane delivery by clearing ice away from your propane tank. Mark the tank location with a flag or pole that is higher than the average snow cover for your area.
About PERC: The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is a check-off program established, operated, and funded by the propane industry. The only energy council of its kind, PERC leads safety and training efforts among propane retailers and consumers and drives technology development to expand adoption of propane as a clean, domestic, and affordable energy source. PERC programs benefit a variety of industries including fleet vehicle management, landscaping, residential and commercial building, agriculture, and material handling. For more information, visit propanecouncil.org.