Customers, businesses struggling to deal with propane shortage and costs
6:34 PM, Feb 5, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder says the state is taking steps to help Michiganders who have been affected by an ongoing propane shortage.
Snyder said the Department of Human Services, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Michigan Economic Development Corp., are taking steps to help residents with heating and financial assistance. He said the Department of Transportation and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs are also working to ease supply chain issues.
"We are using all available tools to relieve the propane supply shortages and to ensure Michiganders can heat their homes and businesses," Snyder said. "I'm confident these additional resources will help in our efforts to lessen the impact of this problem."
Jason Bradshaw of Ortonville is among the estimated 900,000 people in Michigan who use propane at home.
Compared to this time last year, he says he has paid twice as much .. an extra $1,000 so far this winter.
"Even though we haven't used much more propane, the cost has gone up and that's difficult to deal with. We have had to watch what we spend elsewhere. The little extra's we can't really do it," says Bradshaw.
According to the Governor's office, record low temperatures, heavy snow and pipeline issues have all led to a propane shortage and higher prices this winter.
Jay Reinhold has been in the propane industry for 12 years. He's branch manager of Airgas in Ferndale, which is an industrial supplier of propane.
He says it has been challenging keeping up with demand and costs.
"T his is a first for me. I've never seen it hit our industry so hard. It has gone up substantially. The costs are difficult to pass on to the customers," he says.
Meanwhile, Bradshaw says he can't afford to go through this next winter so he's planning on making a change.
"Fortunately, we have natural gas in this area. It was recently run down the street.
So come spring time ... we're done with this," he says.
The Michigan Public Service Commission says the statewide average price is up 79 percent since this time last year.