Polar Vortex, the Sequel: Heating Fuel Shortages Sharpen
NEW YORK (MainStreet) As the upper Midwest, the Great Lakes and the Northeast button up for the return of frigid temps and snow, the return of the popularly termed but meteorologically inaccurate "Polar Vortex" is sharpening heating fuel shortages.
Call it whatever you will: PVII, the Big Chill or just Typical Winter the icy temperatures are straining the already limited supplies of liquid propane.
Propane distributors are deploying extra teams of drivers to help meet demand, while simultaneously conserving remaining supplies. Deliveries are being prioritized to allocate much of the scarce inventory to consumers who are facing empty tanks and frozen homes.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Ohio Governor John Kasich have both issued declarations of emergency to suspend driver restrictions temporarily, enabling increased deliveries of heating oil and propane to local dealers. Commercial drivers can now operate on weekends and without limits on consecutive days of work.
Governor Kasich is also asking the federal government to take similar steps so that propane gas shipments can be shipped into Ohio more quickly from other states. So far, 30 states have issued "hours of service" relief to commercial haulers in order to relocate LP and heating oil to areas in most need.
"This will help get propane companies resupplied so Ohioans who use propane to heat their homes can stay warm, while also doing it safely," Kasich said in a statement. "We're also working closely with county officials to look out for people whose supplies might be getting low. I urge folks to look out for one another right now. Check in on your neighbors, especially seniors or families with young kids, and call your local Red Cross or EMA if there's anyone who needs help."
Meanwhile, consumers are being asked to limit use as much as possible until shortages are alleviated.
Fuel industry analysts say that increased fall crop drying, combined with recent record cold has boosted demand and crimped supplies of liquid propane, especially in the Midwest.
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet