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The Real Deal: Propane Shortage Impacting the Capital Region
ALBANY If you heat with propane, keep a close eye on your tank. Don't let it get too low before calling for a fill because you might not be able to get one. There is a shortage of propane nationally and now it's starting to impact the Capital Region.
If you use propane, you're used to seeing the truck pull up, the hose come out and the fill-up take only a few minutes but a nationwide shortage has caused some issues with that routine.
"It actually started in the mid-west, it was a wet corn crop so they used a lot more than normal for the crop drying and then we rolled right into December when we got really cold weather and basically that compounded the problem then in January it was also very cold," says Rich Coon, the owner of First Fuel in Hudson. Coon has long-term agreements with three propane suppliers so his customers have been okay but some other local companies, that buy propane on the spot market simply can't get enough propane to serve all of their customers. " You can't fill other people's tanks unless they give you permission to, if a company can't get to that customer and they're out of gas, I or another company could put a partial fill in to help them out just to get them by and that's been going on a lot this year," Coon says.
First Fuel has been selling some of its supply to other local dealers but there are some companies that have been telling customers they'll have to wait 2-3 weeks for a fill. And even if you don't use propane to heat, this shortage will likely impact you. "It's all based on the energy BTU content of the different energies and if one of them goes up a lot, the other ones have to pitch in, the supply becomes short and then the price spikes on that, the thing is, these are short term price spikes, I don't see them as being long-term, so I think this is going to be an old story in another 3-4 weeks," Coon adds.
According to NYSERDA, the average price per gallon for propane in the Capital Region in November was about $3.15 per gallon, this week it's $4.08. The price of fuel oil is also rising, in November the average price was $3.78 per gallon now it's about $4.19 per gallon.
To search propane/heating oil prices in your area: https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/Energy-Data-and-Prices-Planning-and-Policy/Energy-Prices-Data-and-Reports/Energy-Prices.aspx