Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of stories looking at the local impact of the recent storm and frigid temperatures.
A propane shortage has led to sharply rising prices and left residents and businesses conserving what they have left.
Brenda Byers, owner of The Hangar Restaurant at Percival Springs Airport just south of Effingham, was informed Thursday that she will receive one last propane delivery this week until further notice.
“They just don’t have it,” said Byers, who buys her propane from Red Hawk Propane in St. Elmo.
Byers had only nice things to say about the propane distributor, which is honoring her contracted price per gallon despite prices more than doubling this week. But the uncertainty of getting more propane has left her business in a lurch.
“We are cutting back our hours at the restaurant,” she said.
Starting immediately the restaurant will be closing six hours earlier at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday as a result of the shortage. However, she is keeping her regular hours on Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
The propane shortage can be blamed on the extremely cold weather, according to Illinois Propane Association Spokesperson John Tibbs, but several other factors are contributing to the growing problem.
“This started back in late fall with wet crops,” said Tibbs. “We used 300 million gallons of propane to dry the crops. We normally use 60 to 65 million gallons (to dry crops).”
Tibbs added that the United States doesn’t have a stock pile of propane like it does for crude oil. These issues, in addition to the fact that Illinois has seen a 30 to 70 percent increase in demand in various areas, has left an unprecedented shortage.
“This is history as far as the length of time for propane shortage,” said Tibbs, noting the industry has been struggling with demand since November.