Propane prices are spiking at what Iowa officials have called an “unprecedented” pace. Prices in October were about $1.52 per gallon. It was up to $1.99 by mid-January.
It’s over $4 per gallon now and is still rising.
The massive jump in prices is being blamed on supply issues related to getting the propane to the Midwest. According to the Iowa Propane Gas Association, the unusual hike in propane prices is the result of a confluence of events that began in October, but essentially it comes down to supply and demand and the infrastructure in place to meet customer needs.
The issues began well before the spike. Midwestern crops were late after a very wet spring. While Iowa dried out over the summer, adjacent states didn’t. That raised demand for propane to run driers for the crops. There was no letup after the fall as Iowa plunged into a cold winter.
Local propane supplier, MFA Oil and Propane told the Daily Iowegian the price jump this winter has been extreme. In a more normal year, the average price could be expected to rise as much as $.50 during the season, although it can vary each year. This winter the price has already went up more than $1 and the price is still expected to rise. In fact the price went up $1 in just one week in January.
For Jerry McKim the spike has been disastrous. He runs the state’s low-income home energy assistance program, better known as LIHEAP. The program still tries to help people, but the price spike has gutted its buying power.
“We had a minimum benefit for fuel delivery customers. That was $500,” he said. “At $1.75 per gallon that might have gotten them a fair amount of propane. Now $500 won’t even come close to the minimum delivery amount. Our buying power has been diminished significantly.”