Marketers testify at Senate committee hearing on propane shortage

May 1, 2014 By    

Gary France, chairman of the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and owner of France Propane Service in Wisconsin, and Joe Cordill, former NPGA chairman and owner of Cordill Butane Propane Service in Louisiana, testified May 1 before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about the causes of last winter’s propane supply shortage.

The hearing, which included representatives from the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Association of Oil Pipe Lines and the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, lasted about two hours. It can be viewed at the committee link above.

According to an NPGA Legislative Alert, testimony from France and Cordill highlighted the need for national solutions to protect energy consumers and address propane infrastructure and distribution challenges.

France summarized the challenges posed to the propane industry’s infrastructure this past winter, saying, “The supply challenges in the Midwest have been of particular concern. … Propane suppliers have traveled long distances and waited in long lines at terminals where the availability of supply was unpredictable, and where they have confronted historically high prices.”

Changes in the flow of energy in the United States, largely initiated by increased shale gas production, have resulted in strains on the existing fuel delivery infrastructure.

In addition to the changing flow of fuels in North America, the challenges of delivering propane to customers this past winter were exacerbated by a number of factors, including a late, wet grain and corn harvest; historic low temperatures; lack of propane storage capacity; diverted transportation assets; and increased exports.

NPGA says it is developing several recommendations for what the government can do to protect consumers who rely on propane, including increasing pipeline transparency; limiting exports during emergencies; updating Department of Transportation emergency thresholds; and lifting the current restriction on the Propane Education & Research Council’s consumer outreach activities.

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