‘Ridiculous’ propane prices pinch Indiana families

Story Topics
Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

PETTIT, Ind. (AP) - Yvonne and Joe Bryant are lucky. Until April, at least.

The Tippecanoe County residents heat their modular home with propane from Lafayette Bottled Gas. They’re enrolled in the budget payment plan, so until April 30st they’re locked in at a price of $1.89 per gallon of propane.

Their son who lives down the road? He’s not so lucky.

“My son just got a bill for $1,059 this month,” Yvonne Bryant told the Journal & Courier (http://on.jconline.com/LZM1HQ ). “That’s just January.”

The Bryants are just one family riding out the nationwide propane pinch. Prices have more than doubled; monthly energy bills have soared. Suppliers have attributed that jump to higher propane use by farmers and an unusually cold winter.

A gallon of propane is about $3.90 per gallon this week, down about 12 cents over the week but up about $1.59 from last year at the same time, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data released Wednesday.

According to the National Weather Service, Lafayette’s average temperature in January was 18.9 degrees, more than 7 degrees below normal temperatures. January was one of the snowiest months ever for central Indiana; since the service began keeping records in 1884, only three months have had more snowfall.

On Wednesday, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced that he would assist propane users facing critically low levels. Consumers with a tank supply at or below 10 percent who are unable to find an alternative supplier can call 800-382-5516 for assistance.

The day before, Gov. Mike Pence joined other Midwest governors in signing a letter to President Barack Obama requesting immediate assistance in addressing the propane shortage. Sen. Joe Donnelly on Friday took similar steps, joining 29 other senators who wrote to Obama asking for relief.

Last week, Pence declared an energy emergency for Indiana, promising to extend travel waivers to propane delivery truckers and to add $5 million to a fund used to assist homeowners with energy bills. The Indiana Senate gave first approval to lifting the propane sales tax that same week.

“Hoosiers continue to face severe propane shortages and unprecedented winter weather, with no relief from either in sight,” Pence said. “In recent weeks, the State of Indiana has acted decisively to alleviate the impact of this crisis on the people of this state and now encourages the federal government to take every possible action to relieve the supply shortages and ensure families, farmers, and business owners can heat their homes, barns, and businesses.”

For the Bryants, relief can’t come quickly enough. Although they’re saving money by being enrolled in their provider’s budget program, beginning April 30 they’ll be paying $5 a gallon to compensate for their low winter payments.

The couple is thinking about shutting off the furnace and switching to electric heating.

“That’s too much money,” Joe Bryant said. “That’s ridiculous.”

Propane users aren’t the only ones feeling a crunch. Natural gas users also will experience a bump in their January bill.

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks