Right now in Columbus there is a lot of anguish for propane users. Not only do people have to wait up to ten days for delivery because of the shortage, but they are also discovering that the price of propane has gone up dramatically over the past month.
One person experiencing these harsh conditions is Tina Morris. The propane tank outside Morris' house holds 500 gallons. With only 50 gallons left in it, Tina called to order more.
Tina told the company that she only had 10 percent left in her tank.
"Oh my gosh, why did you let it get so low?” asked the lady on the line.
Tina explains it is in large part due to the high cost of the propane.
Tina went on to say, “So I’m trying to pinch pennies and get everything together…”
This propane shortage has caused a spike in propane prices that Tina cannot even comprehend. Propane has jumped from $2.80 a gallon a month in Ohio to $3.73 a gallon this week alone.
“So grand total for a hundred gallons, they’re charging me $753.84. Ridiculous!” says Tina.
She’s not the only customer who feels she is being gouged.
The Ohio Attorney General has received 53 complaints about propane since November 1. Most of these complaints have been about delivery and price.
While the National Propane Gas Association wouldn't comment on price gouging, they did say in a statement, "There has been no question that the high prices have caused severe problems for the propane industry and for the customers we serve, most specifically in the Midwest."
Morris uses space heaters in her home instead of the furnace. Tina revealed, "In here is the furnace. With the shortage of propane, I use it for storage.”
Morris’ children wear double layers, and she also barely uses her stove. Tina is left wondering how she will ever pay for the propane that she and her family so desperately need.
“I don’t know. This winter’s just really thrown everybody.”
The National Propane Gas Association supports Senator Grassley and the FTC in their inquiry into whether there have been anomalies with regard to propane markets. There has been no question that the high prices have caused severe problems for the propane industry and for the customers we serve, most specifically in the Midwest. The operation of a free market is crucial for a stable economy and for the protection of consumers. We are eager to determine whether propane markets are operating in accord with free market principles and support the measures being taken to increase market transparency.