Propane shortage grips Midwest

A worker fills a propane tank on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013.
A worker fills a propane tank on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013.

CRIVITZ - A shortage of liquid propane has gripped parts of the Midwest, and appears to be spreading.

Some blame it on the latest round of harsh weather, while others say it's a matter of supply and demand.

"There's over $800....$433, $374," said Dana Federici, Crivitz.

Federici says it's been a spendy season.

"It's crazy," she said.

Federici says her gas company told her it couldn't deliver more propane. She and her family have taken drastic measures to heat their Crivitz home.

"We have a 100 pound cylinder that we took to Tall Oaks gas station in Twin Bridge. We filled it there, that's what we have hooked up in our backyard," said Federici.

Federici says the $75 fill should last the week.

"About five or six days if we're lucky," said Federici.

Just up the road Lakes Gas Company has seven propane storage tanks, but officials say those tanks are far from full. And at this time the company isn't taking new customers.

"We continue to get customers calling from other gas companies as well, not just our own customers with questions wondering if it's true, it it's just their company, if it's this company and what's going on," said Julie Patefield, Lakes Gas Company customer service representative.

Propane industry experts say the price for a gallon of propane went up 80 cents Monday. Prices at Lakes Gas were at $3.69 a gallon and have doubled since fall, and delivery amounts have been cut.

"Just north of Green Bay we're using a 70% fill level just because it's colder," said Steven Sargeant, Lakes Gas Co. general manager.

Charlene Fuchs has fuel. She says Ferrell Gas is under contract to fill her tank.

"We pay the same every month. They always come on time, and make sure it's refilled," said Charlene Fuchs, Town of Stephenson.

But not everyone is on a seasonal contract.

"The customer who has to pay for that retail gallon it's very difficult for them to budget that," said Sargeant.

Dana Federici says it's a tough lesson.

"It's ridiculous. I mean, we just rent this house, and we paid more for gas this month, than we did for rent," said Federici.

Industry experts say it will be at least another three weeks until the situation can even begin to improve. Until then, people are asked to conserve their use of propane.