With these frigid temperatures, the natural reaction is to crank the heat up, but some propane customers are being forced to turn the heat down because prices are skyrocketing.
When Bob Morris sees his propane supply go down, he sees the dollar signs go up.
“If i was to fill up today with the company i used in the past, it would be $6.35 a gallon,” Morris says, “I filled up two weeks ago for $1.95 a gallon.”
Greg Noll with the Propane Marketers Association of Kansas says the spike is the result of several misfortunes. First there was a long, late grain drying season in the upper Midwest.
“Our supply was depleted and put to lower levels than we’re comfortable for winter to come,” Noll says.
Then came a series of harsh cold blasts we weren’t ready for.
“It is a perfect storm,” Noll says, “And in my point of view, the worst case scenario that we could possibly deal with in our industry.”
But Morris thinks it’s a result of price gouging – the companies know they’ll get the price they want because the demand is so high.
“I think they’re doing it just ’cause they can, because what are people like me going to do, say no I don’t want your propane, no, I’ve got to have it,” Morris says.
“We have not officially been informed that Kansas or any Kansas officials are calling it price gouging but certainly investigations have begun,” Noll says.
Noll adds all customers can do right now is conserve what they have, by turning down thermostats and even shutting off the heat in unused rooms.
“It’s going to be a hardship on anyone who is asked to do that,” he says.
Morris says he’s already contact the Kansas Attorney General’s Office. He also plans to file an official complaint with its Consumer Protection Group.