Updated: 01/17/2014 6:10 PM
Created: 01/17/2014 5:17 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
The incredibly cold winter has Northlanders running furnaces on full-blast, but a propane shortage means staying warm is coming with a bigger price tag for some in the region.
Suppliers said customers locked into a contract are saving money, but others are paying up to $2.69 a gallon. That is a 60 percent jump from prices just a year ago.
Flicking on the heat can feel like burning money for those customers as propane prices skyrocket. Suppliers like Superior Fuel Company said the frigid temperatures have kept demand high with less propane to go around.
“To break it down to simple economics it's very high demand and short supply right now,” Sales Manager Mark Hennessy said.
He said the rough winter weather and a pipeline repair contributed to the shortage.
“Whether that be rail, road, or pipeline transport we just simply aren't restocking our inventory quick quick enough,” Hennessy said.
But propane is not just for heating homes. Farmers also used more last fall to dry crops. Hennessy said his company is searching far and wide for any supply that can get.
“South Dakota is basically as far as we can go. Anybody that'll give us gas that's where we're going for it,” Hennessy said.
Contract customers are seeing savings with locked in prices, but that could change. Hennessy said the shortage could last into next winter.
“You are going to see a sharp increase in prices that are not going to make people comfortable or their checkbooks comfortable this year,” Hennessy said.
He said no company likes to raise prices, but that is impossible to avoid with the rising propane prices. Hennessy hopes customers realize that, and he recommends turning down the thermostat.
“I would say try as hard as you can to conserve the best you can because like I said the situation is going to get worse before it gets better,” Hennessy said.
He said the problem seems even worse because prices have been cheap the last few years. Hennessy said propane prices in the Northland are still below the national average of $2.88 per gallon.
St. Louis County Cracks Down on Smoking in Child Care Homes
Although most child care providers don't allow smoking in their homes already, St. Louis County created a rule to make sure it stays that way. On January 1st, all licensed family child care homes in St. Louis County will be completely smoke free 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of whether children are present or not.
Remembering Sally: Co-workers Honor West Duluth Stabbing Victim
Coworkers of 75-year old Sally Marie Pionk shared their memories of their "dedicated" and "hardworking" friend Wednesday.
Truck Goes Through Intersection, Crashes into Front Entrance of Red Mug Coffeehouse
Just before 8 p.m., the truck went through the intersection of Broadway Street and Hammond Avenue and struck the entrance of the Red Mug Coffeehouse and Bake Shop. No patrons were using the door at the time of the accident and no pedestrians were injured, according to Sgt. Adam Poskozim.
Trucking Company Rolls Through Country Honoring Vets
A Northland trucking company is honoring America's vets in a very mobile way. Halvor Lines has dedicated one of its rigs to be decorated as a rolling tribute to veterans. The truck just returned from its maiden voyage to Arlington National Cemetery.
Nolan Praises Cuba Policy, Plans Trip
A Minnesota congressman who has long advocated for changes to the United States' Cuba policy says a decision to normalize relations with the island country is a "monumental step" in the right direction.