Residents deal with higher propane prices

Propane tank (KSN File Photo)

CONWAY, Kansas – Millions of people nationwide are facing the prospect of paying more than double to fill up their propane tanks to heat their homes partially due to price increases at a Kansas storage hub.

The storage hub in Conway, a few miles west of McPherson, houses about 30 percent of the nation’s propane supply, but increased demand from numerous consumers and difficulty getting the product to consumers has driven the price up.

For rural residents like Cheryl Brittain-Tillemans, who lives near Andover, the prices are as high as they have ever been. She looked into re-filling her tank, but was quoted a price of around $5 a gallon, which is more than double what she paid to fill her tank in November.

“It was $1.94 when I ordered propane and I got 350 gallons for $650, so $500, that doesn’t even cover 100 gallons now,” she said.

Department of Energy analysts blamed the propane price spike on two factors: increased demand from farms to use propane to dry their crops, and more demand from homes to use it for heating in the latest cold spell. There have also been disruptions in delivering the propane, according to a DoE bulletin issued last week.

Conway Propane is traded publicly like stocks, and the price briefly hit an all-time high of $4.95 a gallon on Thursday. It has since gone back down under the $4 mark, which is still unusually high.

Several suppliers reached by KSN Monday night are concerned the price hikes could hurt their business, particularly from rural residents losing faith in the cost of propane.

Brittain-Tillemans says she has considered making the switch in her home to electric heating, and that she is using space heaters and her oven to currently heat her home and limit her propane usage.

“It’s a good possibility because I think I can get my furnace replaced for the cost to fill up my propane tank,” she said.

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