Midwest Homes and Businesses go Without Propane in the Middle of Winter

Updated: 01/26/2014 5:34 PM
Created: 01/25/2014 4:47 PM
By: Todd Wilson

Cheryl Ingalls took a KSTP crew to where her 500 gallon propane tank sits on her property in Webster, Wisconsin.

"Monday morning I could smell LP on my tank, that was because it was so low," she said.  

Typically she fills her tank up. But since propane is scarce, she been forced to keep her thermostat turned down.

"So I have a pellet stove in the basement which I don't know how to use. So I've been trying to figure out how to use that but it's not just me," Ingalls said. 

It's not just Ingalls who is hurting because of the shortage of propane.

Larry Johnson is the owner of "Larry's LP," in Webster. His 30,000 gallon tank was last filled Jan. 10. His supply lasted two and a half days. Johnson has been dry for over a week now.   

"It's at a point you don't even sleep at night because you are wondering about your customers. It's that rough," he said.

The Wisconsin Propane Gas Association is looking into whether price gouging is taking place. In Minnesota, the Department of Commerce says, at the beginning of October, propane was at $1.67 a gallon. Last week's average was $2.57 and continues to rise.

The propane industry which is not regulated, is saying the tight supply will most likely last throughout the home heating season.

Johnson says, he typically supplies just over 500 customers.

"We don't got the product, we are losing customers," he said.

Ingalls got lucky she was able to get a 150 gallons. But she doesn't expect it to last very long.

"I asked the guy that and he said well, figure you are burning about 10 gallons a day, I'm like that's two weeks," she said.

Minnesota lawmakers sent a letter to President Obama Friday asking for help addressing the shortage.


Minneapolis/St. Paul

38° | 32°
  • Feels like: 29° F
  • Wind: SE 12mph
  • Humidity: 93%
  • Tue Snow likely
    33° | 30°
  • Wed Considerable cloudiness
    30° | 20°
  • Thu Mix of sun and clouds
    30° | 20°
  • Fri Clouds giving way to sun
    20° | 5°