Rural Colorado feels pinch of rising propane prices

Prices are up more than 17 percent from a year ago

PINE, Colo. - Widespread propane shortages in the north and Midwest have caused the price of propane to skyrocket, impacting many rural Colorado residents who rely on it to heat their homes.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says prices are at record highs, up more than 17 percent from a year ago.

Colorado businesses who sell and distribute propane are also feeling the pinch from rising costs.

Independent Propane delivers propane to more than 2,000 local residents who rely on it to heat their homes during the winter months. The company, which is based in Pine, Colo., was started 44 years ago and Robert Blackwell said he has never seen prices rise as high as they have in the past month. Blackwell isn't charging customers what propane is costing him, but for some, it's still too much.

"It hurts, it really hurts, and we'll lose some of those customers and never get them back," said Blackwell.

As Independent Propane tries to keep up with demand, Blackwell said the rising prices are significantly impacting his bottom line.

"Spend your life building a business, and you see it declining over something like this, it's very disappointing," said Blackwell.

Mike Whitmore works for Independent Propane and also uses propane to heat part of his own home. He's chosen to wait to fill up his propane tank at home because of the price, and said some customers are having to adapt as well. 

"There's a lot of people buying one hundred gallons and it's still expensive, you know," said Whitmore.

DD Alexander is the owner and president of Global Gas, a wholesale propane company based in Englewood. Alexander is the third generation of her family to work in the propane business and she told us she's never seen prices spike this high.

"It's at every different step in the supply chain. I truly think it's supply and demand," explained Alexander.

She calls the conditions leading up to and combining to create the propane price increase, "the perfect storm." 

Alexander said the industry went into winter without high propane inventory. Meanwhile, large amounts of propane were dedicated to farming. Then widespread, brutal, constant cold weather strained the supply even more.  

Alexander also noted that propane lines that used to flow up to Kansas, were switched to flow to the Gulf region for export.


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