Atlantic Cities

The Midwest Is Running Dangerously Low on Propane

The Midwest Is Running Dangerously Low on Propane
Shutterstock

The Midwest is running so low on propane that at least two states have declared a state of energy emergency. And now, with Polar Vortex 2: The Vortexening approaching, it's only going to get worse.

The shortage is due to several factors. The first polar vortex is one, but CNNMoney also blames increased propane exports and last fall's larger (and wetter) than average corn crop, which required more fuel for crop-drying heaters. The month-long shutdown of a major propane pipeline is also a factor.

The result? Propane stocks are at their lowest since 1993, when the government began keeping track, according to Reuters.

Michigan Governor Rick Synder declared a state of energy emergency on January 10, and Ohio Governor John Kasich followed suit last weekend. The declarations lifted regulations limiting commercial drivers' hours. More hours on the road will hopefully mean expedited delivery. Several states, from Oklahoma to Vermont, have asked the Department of Transportation for similar transportation waivers.

In the meantime, prices have skyrocketed -- propane is up 50 percent in one week alone, according to CNNMoney. So even if you can find propane, you might not be able to afford it.

"It's cold and we're paying so much money and it's still cold," Ohio resident Lori Martinez told Toledo News Now. "It's frustrating because the house is cold and you're going broke."

Fourteen million homes in the United States use propane for heat. If you're one of them, you are advised to keep your thermostat at a chilly 50 degrees and avoid using propane to cook.

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic Wire.

Sara Morrison writes for The Wire. All posts »

Join the Discussion