Cold weather, crop drying combine to raise concern over propane supplies for North Country
Sunday, January 26, 2014 - 5:45 pm

By CRAIG FREILICH

Many people in St. Lawrence County use propane as their primary heating fuel, and rumblings of propane shortages in different places around the country combined with extreme low temperatures in some places, like the North Country, are of concern to some people.

Charlie Merriman at J.C. Merriman’s in Norwood wasn’t willing to call it an outright shortage, but he did say recently his brokers were having a little more trouble finding propane to sell him.

“I don’t know if I’d classify it as a shortage, but I did hear some dealers are getting caught a little short. But there are lots of places we can buy propane. My broker says it’s a little tighter, and coming from farther away,” Merriman said.

Recent reports in Canadian newspapers said there were signs of shortages in Ontario, and since then there have been rumblings from around the U.S. that propane supplies could be falling short of requirements.

The New York Propane Gas Association said last week that it could simply be a matter of getting supplies to where they are needed.

“Supply is plentiful in the Gulf Coast where exports continue at record levels,” a news release from the NYPGA said.

“New York propane users are being served by their suppliers through this rough period and will continue to be served,” they said in the release.

“The cold weather has affected all fuels used by consumers,” the association said, “and it has exacerbated these transportation and infrastructure issues.”

Another issue in supplying propane this winter, Merriman said, is the fact that wetter than normal crops harvested this past fall in many parts of the country required extra drying, usually done with propane heat – drawing more from the supply available this winter.

“But obviously we’re going to use more propane in the winter,” Merriman said, and even more when we get cold snaps like the ones we’ve had already this winter.