Record cold temperatures across the Midwest have created an unprecedented propane gas shortage. Michigan’s U.S. Senators have written to President Obama urging action because propane prices have more than doubled in some areas.
Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow have asked the president to direct his attention to the issue to ensure that prices don’t rise due to excessive speculation and to extend an emergency declaration that facilitates propane transportation.
It’s been more than 30 days since Governor Rick Snyder declared a propane energy emergency in Michigan. The Michigan Public Service Commission says the supply of propane in the region is down 46% from this same time a year ago.
The Rapid River Fractionation Facility that typically processes 5 million gallons of propane a month has been hampered lately. Production came to halt last Thursday when the facility ran out of the materials that are needed to make propane, but it was an anticipated shortage. Pumps were being installed at the Superior, Wisconsin facility that provides the product needed to produce propane.
The product became available again this past weekend, and the Rapid River plant has been up and running since Monday, a day ahead of schedule. Despite sending trucks to Wisconsin and downstate Michigan for additional resources, the facility still can’t keep up with demand.
The Propane Education and Research Council is reaching out to state and federal authorities to open up more transportation options for propane, including extending hours–of–service exemptions that allow drivers to move propane more freely, and easing frost laws that limit a truck’s maximum weight.