Positive supply message impressed upon propane caucus

November 19, 2015 By    

The Congressional Propane Caucus that was established earlier this year met for the first time in October on Capitol Hill in advance of the winter heating season.

Several energy industry leaders presented at the briefing, including Phil Squair, senior vice president of public and governmental affairs at the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA). Squair discussed the propane industry’s preparedness for the upcoming winter. He was pleased to share a positive report with congressional staffers about the state of propane supply and distribution.

“Having the first briefing after the negativity of a couple years ago be such a positive message was really awesome,” Squair says. “Everyone who came in was really ready for the worst.”

According to NPGA, representatives from the Congressional Research Service and Energy Information Administration also addressed staffers. Those representatives offered additional positive takeaways about the state of the industry, Squair says.

The last propane takeaway a number of legislators had prior to the latest briefing was the supply shortage of the 2013-14 winter, he adds. At that time, legislators heard from affected constituents about the lack of available propane.

Fortunately for the industry, supply dynamics have changed over the last two years.

“We’ve got a lot of supply,” Squair says. “We’ve got customers who are in good shape [and] infrastructure that’s holding up and growing.”

Despite the improved supply landscape, Squair cautions retailers to be aware of potential distribution disruptions.

“Taking propane that last mile is the toughest place to be,” Squair says. “If you can’t get it to the homeowner, that person thinks there’s a shortage.”

At last count, 44 legislators comprised the Congressional Propane Caucus. NPGA would like the caucus’ growth to continue, Squair says. Twenty-eight caucus members are Republicans and 16 are Democrats.

“We’ve been thrilled with the Democratic response,” Squair says. “Early on we were thinking this might be viewed as a fossil fuel thing. It’s been gratifying that the folks up on the Hill want to know what’s happening in the industry and what their constituents are facing.”

Aside from the caucus, NPGA is engaged in the ongoing highway bill discussions taking place on Capitol Hill. Both the House and the Senate have proposed separate multi-year bills to fund U.S. transportation infrastructure. Congress hopes to agree on a single bill before the end of the year.

“There’s a lot of impact on our industry,” Squair says of a highway bill. “We’re more of a trucking industry than anything else, so the availability of good roads and infrastructure is critical for us.”

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik was a senior editor at LP Gas Magazine.

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