Temporary propane shortage

NGALLSTON, Mich. - Many people may be looking to fill their liquid propane tanks. A temporary shortage across the Midwest has caused Michigan's governor to issue an energy state of emergency.

Prices in the Upper Peninsula are on the rise.

For more than 1,800 customers in the Marinette, Wis.-Menominee, Mich., area, heating their homes with liquid propane is a winter necessity.

“I just started burning wood, and that cut down on the amount of propane I need. Before that, I used almost a tankful just in two weeks,” said Rick Schnell of Ingallston, Mich.

But industry analysts say logistics in delivering liquid propane may be causing a temporary shortage of the resource.

“If you remember back in deer hunting, it was below zero, windy days, and then we had a big corn crop in the Midwest that required a lot of propane to dry it. So when you look at the combination of the two - cold weather and a big corn crop - it just put a big stress on the system,” said Steve Zutz, Country Visions Cooperative president and CEO.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder issued a state of energy emergency affecting those in the Upper Peninsula. Wisconsin has issued similar declarations. The orders allow propane carriers to drive longer hours to deliver the product from terminals like the one in Janesville to areas in need.

“The companies that truck our propane from the terminal to our tanks, that affects them because they're across-state-lines shippers and they have to adhere to federal guidelines for hours of service,” said Zutz.

Company officials say it’s supply and demand.

“We have a lot of our customers that have contracted, locked in their price from this fall and summer. But if they hadn't, then obviously the prices are going up. The prices are up probably about 50 cents a gallon from earlier this fall,” said Zutz.

Customers say it's a necessary part of rural living.

“I worry about the price, but what can you do? It's something you got to live with,” said Rick Schnell, Ingallston

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