Propane shortage brings higher prices, leaving some in the cold - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Propane shortage brings higher prices, leaving some in the cold

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Millions of Americans are scrambling to find a way to heat their homes after a propane shortage has caused prices to skyrocket.

The cold weather this winter is causing the demand for propane to go up. The price has risen from less than $3 a gallon to over $5 a gallon in some places.

The supply of propane is also limited for the 12 million Americans who use propane to heat their homes. States are easing restrictions on propane trucks, to make transportation easier.

Residents say they just can't deal with the rising prices.

"It's horrifying," one resident told us. "I mean, you can't turn your thermostat much lower without freezing your pipes. All our appliances run on propane. The dishwasher, the stove, the hot water heater."

Thirty-three states, including Indiana, are allowing more than 23 hours of truck service a day in order to get more propane to the areas that need it most.

It's a $40 fill-up for Charles Spencer at the Home Depot in St. Matthews. Spencer needs two propane tanks to heat his garage.

"I didn't really pay attention to the price because it's something that I need," Spencer said.

Spencer says he needs to heat his garage so he can play table tennis.

But it's a much more critical purchase for the more than 12 million Americans who rely on propane to heat their homes. The cold snap is creating a nationwide propane emergency with high prices and even greater demand.

"How could it go up from yesterday, at $2.69 a gallon, to $5 today," said Sandy Dehorn, a homeowner. "How can that happen?"

"I only got 500 gallons," said Paul Quigley, another homeowner. "That's all they would give me yesterday. Natural gas ain't out here. It's propane or nothing, so what do you do?"

"You can't turn your thermostat much lower without freezing your pipes," said homeowner Marsha Been. "The dishwasher, stove, hot water heater all run on propane."

States are taking steps to provide some relief by easing restrictions on propane trucks. Ten Midwestern states, 14 on the east coast and nine down south --including Kentucky -- are allowing more than 23 hours of service to get more propane to places that need it.

"I sure as hell don't want to pay $4,000 a month or so for propane," Quigley said.

Back at Home Depot, employees are telling customers about alternatives.

"A kerosene heater that you can use in your rooms," said Duncan Smith, a Home Depot employee. "We have an odorless kerosene that we sell as well."

"If you have a fireplace, we've still got firewood and fire longs," Smith added.

With frustration running high, solutions can't come fast enough.

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