Early, cold winter affecting propane shortage - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Early, cold winter affecting propane shortage

Wisconsin's brutal winter and the high demand to heat homes is affecting propane supplies.

Some suppliers Newsline 9 spoke with said they've never seen a shortage like this in their careers.

Now, in the middle of winter, the shortage is causing a headache for people trying to heat their homes.

When Stephanie Hyatt and Steven Springer of Hamburg realized their propane tank was low, they had no idea what it would take to get it refilled and heat their house.

"I thought it would be call one person, done and over with. But we didn't realize the shortage they were talking about," said Hyatt.

Hyatt says she called about 15 different companies to order propane.

"I was kind of scared for her situation because we have a kid coming on the way and we couldn't get nobody. They're refusing us and I didn't know what to do," said Springer.

Industry leaders say problems contributing to the shortage started in the fall.

"We had a late harvest and we had a wet harvest so the demand for propane in Wisconsin was even higher," said Brandon Scholz, Wisconsin Propane Gas Association managing director.

An early, cold winter added to the problem.

"The propane keeps going out and there's never been the time where the demand has lessened enough for the storage facilities to be refilled," said Amanda Nowinsky, co-owner of Rightway Propane.

That's affecting customers and businesses.

"All companies are rationed. It's called allocation. That means that we only get a certain number of loads. In turn, we have to then ration our customers," said Nowinsky.

Scholz says companies across the Midwest are in short supply.

"Nobody's trying to pull any fancy tricks here, this is really a period of time which, as a dealer and as a business in the community, they're working hard to make sure everybody gets treated right," said Scholz.

Hyatt and Springer did finally find a company to fill their tank. They say they're grateful to have enough to get them through another month.

The rising price of propane is another problem. One supplier said the price jumped twenty cents overnight. She said her company is dealing with the smallest profit margins they've ever seen.

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