U.P. propane supply may be in question

January 17, 2014 – The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today said that the widespread shortage of propane will face additional challenges next week when a facility in Wisconsin that supplies fuel shuts down for maintenance.  Inventories in the region are 43 percent below this time last year.

While the propane situation in the Upper Peninsula is more pronounced, it also affects the Lower Peninsula.  An estimated 9 percent of households in Michigan use propane as the primary space heating fuel.

“An already tight supply of propane will get even tighter beginning next week and lasting through at least the end of the month,” said MPSC Chairman John D. Quackenbush. “That means propane customers in the Upper Peninsula should use their propane supplies wisely in the coming weeks by reducing usage and avoiding energy waste.”

Factors contributing to the propane shortage include a late, wet harvest season (propane is used for drying corn.), extreme cold temperatures, heavy snowfall, pipeline disruptions/shutdowns, a rail closure in Canada, and difficult driving conditions.

Governor Rick Snyder on December 20, 2013 declared a state of energy emergency for propane. On January 10, the Governor issued a second executive order declaring a state of energy emergency for both propane and heating oil through Jan. 31. The executive orders exempt motor carriers and drivers transporting propane and heating oil within Michigan from hours-of-service regulations and requirements.  Nationwide, 24 states have declared similar propane energy emergencies.