National propane shortage felt at home
Updated: Thursday, February 13 2014, 06:03 AM EST
Albion, N.Y. -- The timing couldn't be worse. Prolonged bitter cold coinciding with a shortage of propane needed to heat homes.
Millions of Americans are struggling to get and pay for propane. Locally, people have already started to feel the impact of the shortage.
“We woke up at about 7 in the morning," said Betsy Yohe of Albion. "We were down to 57 degrees”
Out of propane and with only a space heater to keep her home and two young children warm, Yohe said she is cold and frustrated.
“We keep our house at 62 degrees because we are pretty cheap and propane is expensive,” she said. “Why are we running out? It just doesn't make sense.”
According to the owner of one local propane store, national suppliers are telling companies to short-fill propane tanks in an effort to distribute the dwindling supply. While tanks are usually filled up 80 percent, the local owner said many businesses are now only filling tanks half-way, so customers are running on empty.
For the first time in its history, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered emergency propane shipments be sent to the areas hit hardest by the shortage.
In the next week, the Midwest and Northeast will get 21 million gallons of propane. That will help, but local propane company owners said that won't solve the problem. The 500,000 barrels will only put a dent in the shortage and may not be enough to lower prices.
Brett Brumm of Hamlin said the cost of propane is crippling.
“It's been pretty cold to keep it warm and for us propane is our only source of heat we've had to keep it on.” Brumm said. “It’s pretty much they just put the bill on your door and you either pay it or your freeze.”
Brumm said his family is doing both. With the thermostat set no higher than 62 degrees, his heating bill has tripled from last year.