Low Temps Impacting Delmarva's Propane Supply - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Low Temps Impacting Delmarva's Propane Supply


DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - There's no denying it's been cold on Delmarva the past few weeks. Dover has had eight days since the new year that never got above freezing.

The low temps are affecting the region's propane supply. Bob Zola, president of Sharp Energy, says it's not just the cold that's to blame. The shortage started with a wet summer and the need to dry out corn crops.

"Propane dries the corn," Zola said. "So, in the fall, a lot of the product that normally goes into storage went to the grain driers."

Then it got cold, especially in the Midwest. Zola says that put extra stress on the nationwide supply.

"There's product in the country, but it's not in the right places. It's expensive to move it to the right places. That's where we are right now."

He adds the Delaware City Refinery also just recently had to stop, at least temporarily, selling propane to retailers.

Zola says some retailers are having to short-fill customers to make their supply last. Sharp hasn't done that yet but could need to soon.

"I've been in the business 30 years. I can't recall a supply situation like this," he said.

Rick Levinson, CEO of Schagrin Gas, agrees the cold is putting pressure on the country and the region's propane supply. But he's not as concerned about his company's supply - in part because it only gets a quarter of its supply from the Delaware City Refinery.

"We have enough product coming in to take care of our customers," he said. "We don't see any problems. We're just being careful how we meter the propane out."

Both men agree the key to all this is the temperatures starting to moderate.

"It will be until we can get a warm spell where we can start to fill the storage back up," Zola said. "And I'm not talking a weekend. We need a couple weeks of above normal temperatures."

He says these current issues are temporary. Long term propane is still a good energy source.

There may be a supply issue on Delmarva for many propane companies. But it's nothing compared to the Midwest. Governors there have actually had to declare states of emergency over a lack of propane.

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