Skyrocketing Propane Prices Worry Nebraskans


Gary Brandt checks prices over a cup of Mountain Mudd coffee.

He questioned, "Do you know what propane prices are doing this morning?"

The cost of propane is about enough to give someone sticker shock.

Brandt said, "Prices were around $1.50 a couple weeks ago. Now our price on propane in Geneva, Nebraska for example, is about $4.75. You've got $3 increase in ten days."

Brandt says some of the reason is the additional propane needed to dry corn during a wetter than expected harvest. But that may be a small factor compared to pipeline problems, and the cold.

"It's been incredibly cold in the north -- Minnesota, Wisconsin -- they've been using propane like crazy," he said.

Several states have declared emergencies, with town hall meetings scheduled in Wisconsin.

"You hear it every day, there are people down to 5 percent, 10 percent; they're going to be out," Deanna Farley said following a meeting in her community.

At CPI, the co-op has propane on hand to fulfill contracts and it's a good thing they do.

Gary Brandt said, "We're selling propane for a dollar less than it costs us to get it, so we're using a blend of our inventory plus our contract to take it as easy as possible on our customers because everybody has to have a warm house."

Much of that propane is used on the farm.

"It's all about keeping warm, not just people, animals as well," Brandt said.

CPI has temporarily waived rules. Customers don't have to place a full order to have propane delivered, but as much as possible, they are asking people to conserve.

Brandt said, "We're encouraging people to skate by using as little as they can, because we don't really want to sell this expensive propane. We want to wait until price drops, then we can fill everybody's tanks back up."

With political pressure across the Midwest, Brandt expects supplies to ramp back up, and the price to fall back down.

"As soon as we get caught up on inventories, we're going to see price plummet down probably just as fast as it went up," he said.