Although several propane distributors in the area wouldn’t comment on the shortage, Kevin Bernson, spokesman for Shelby County Electric Cooperative, believes the public should know about the limited supply.
“At Shelby Energy, we just want to inform people that if they use propane for their primary heat source, they may want to look into something else in case the shortage becomes more critical,” he said.
According to Bernson, Shelby Electric got a letter from their distributor Amerigas, saying the co-op will not get propane deliveries after this week. This week it got one of six deliveries, he added.
“It was odd for us to get a letter like that,” said Bernson, adding that some of the customers who do receive propane this week will get a limited amount. “People need to know they might have a hard time getting propane.”
Prices at local propane distributors had risen to more than $4 a gallon by Thursday afternoon, up from an average summer price of $1.60 to $1.80.
Tibbs said the tumultuous weather isn’t helping with delivery of propane, which is now being trucked from as far away as Mississippi, Texas and Alabama. He is optimistic that deliveries will continue, as the Illinois Department of Transportation changed the rules for propane drivers in December, giving them the ability to drive longer hours.
Tibbs said consumers shouldn’t be surprised by the price spike, saying it is a normal occurrence.
“The price is related to supply and demand,” said Tibbs. “We don’t call our legislature when gas goes up. We are just talking about hundreds of gallons purchased at a time, instead of like 20 gallons of gas for a vehicle.”
Tibbs added another contributing factor to the cost increase may be due to United States’ export of propane to Europe, which has also been hit with abnormally cold temperatures this winter, he said.