Dealers see propane shortage

A tight supply of propane is causing concerns for rural Ohio residents who use the fuel to heat their homes, and the governor has relaxed some delivery restrictions to help expedite propane gas shipments.

Mike Conroy, a salesman at Youngstown Propane in Austintown Township, said supplies have been so limited, workers there are planning a trip to North Carolina to retrieve at least a load that they will then provide to many local customers in Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

Conroy said his company has been seeing supplies dwindle since November, but with the repeated blasts of arctic air this month, he said the company has begun limiting purchases to those residents that need the fuel the most.

“It’s just been so cold, it’s hard to keep up,” Conroy said Tuesday. “It’s to the point where we have been rationing what we deliver, giving people enough to keep them warm with the bitter cold coming.”

Experts have attributed the shortage largely to two causes: The extreme cold has increased usage; and Midwest grain crops were good this year, but wet, increasing usage of propane needed to operate grain dryers.

The product is used by customers mostly in rural areas. Youngstown Propane services about 1,000 regular customers, he said.

Census data indicates about 6 percent of Ohio households are heated primarily using propane, most of them rural homes. Morrow County has the highest percentage, with about a third relying on propane.

Gov. John Kasich’s emergency declaration temporarily allows propane shippers to drive more hours and consecutive days than usual.