Propane shortage threatens home heating, fuel for businesses - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Propane shortage threatens home heating, fuel for businesses


JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- Another side effect of the cold weather has propane users searching for supplies.

Demand is abnormally high for propane gas, which is used by businesses to run vehicles and also to heat homes.

A shortage began in fall, when farmers in Wisconsin had a late, wet harvest. They had to dry out their crops, using more propane. Right after, a prolonged cold snap came to the area, causing homeowners to increase their use too.

Brandon Scholz, managing director of the Wisconsin Propane Gas Association says the unprecedented demand nationwide came at a time when supply couldn't keep up. Trucks started coming from all over the Midwest to fill up at Wisconsin propane terminals, like the one in Janesville.

Scholz tells 27 News some truckers have had to wait hours at the propane pump, only to find they can't get a full tank because there just isn't enough to go around.

This could be an ongoing problem, until we get a break from the wintry weather. Scholz suggests homeowners who use propane stay on alert to avoid running out.

"Make sure that you know what level your tank is at, how much propane you have, and you need to check it and don't wait until the end to say, 'I'm just about out, I need to call the dealer to have them load the tank," Scholz says.
25,000 homeowners in Wisconsin use propane to heat their houses. Scholz says they may need to conserve their supply by dialing down the thermostat, in case dealers can't provide more propane when its needed. Usage has been about 12 percent higher than normal due to the weather.
In addition to the extra demand, some pipelines that fuel the Midwest have had to shut down for maintenance, adding further strain on the supplies.
Badger Cab runs an all-propane fleet of taxis in Madison. Owner Tom Melms tells 27 News the cabs go through a 30,000 gallon tank every month. A local supplier has acknowledged a shortage, but assures Badger Cab there should be enough to keep the taxis running.


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