Western marketers are experiencing tremendous demand for propane this month as cold temperatures are impacting several states. But the sudden demand has created a bottleneck that’s forcing drivers to wait in longer-than-usual lines at supply terminals and slowing propane’s delivery to customers.
Fortunately, five states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico – have already issued emergency orders that temporarily waive federal rules limiting how many hours delivery drivers can be on the road.
California and Arizona were the first to issue orders Jan. 11 that give drivers leeway. Colorado was the latest, issuing an emergency temporary exception of the hours-of-service regulation Jan. 17.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah marketers are also hoping for emergency orders to be issued. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s office told the newspaper that it is aware of the problem and gathering information to make a decision.
“What we’ve been seeing is that the drivers are sitting in line often for eight hours or more, burning through their hours of service,” Baron Glassgow, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Propane Association, told the Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s taking a lot longer to get the propane where it is needed.”
Mark Harris, senior vice president of Utah supplier Kiva Energy, told the Salt Lake Tribune that his company is having to look at alternative areas to source some of its propane – and not just because demand is unusually high.
“We’re bringing in two to three railcars a day, some of it from as far away as Canada,” Harris said, noting that Kiva gets much of its propane from natural gas plants in Wyoming but that colder temperatures have led to decreased production.