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Regional spotlight: Propane fuels the Northeast

January 16, 2023 By     0 Comments

Our quarterly series examines 
the unique geographical nature 
of the propane industry. This month, we look at the Northeast.

Look for other regional breakdowns in 2023

April: Propane Fuels the South

July: Propane Fuels the Midwest

October: Propane Fuels the West


Map of the Northeast: Rainer Lesniewski/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Image: Rainer Lesniewski/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

About the Northeast

Maybe it’s no coincidence that three of the largest four companies on the LP Gas Top Propane Retailers list are based in the Northeast. Of course, AmeriGas, Suburban Propane and Superior Plus Propane have a nationwide reach, but households in the Northeast (and Midwest) consume more energy on average than households in the South and West regions, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Propane sales

The Northeast sold about 1.62 billion gallons of propane in 2021 – an increase of 49 million gallons, or 3 percent, compared with 2020 sales. That accounts for about 17 percent of total U.S. propane sales. The residential market accounted for about 57 percent of total sales, while the commercial sector accounted for about 30 percent. In fact, the commercial sector experienced the highest increase in 2021 sales – by 31 million gallons.

Top states by annual gallon sales (2021)

  • No. 7: New York – 437 million gallons
  • No. 10: Pennsylvania – 373 million gallons

The weather

Annual heating degree-days in the Northeast declined by 0.4 percent in 2021 compared to a year earlier.

New England: 5,800

Middle Atlantic: 5,272

U.S.: 3,937

Propane bobtail and tank photo by Roger Rosenbaum/Brand-News-Team

New York ranks seventh in annual propane gallon sales, based on 2021 data. Pennsylvania follows in 10th. (Photo: Roger Rosenbaum/Brand-News-Team)


Unique to the Northeast

The supply scene: New England is heavily dependent on rail and ship for its propane supply. Propane in the region is augmented by Blackline Midstream’s terminals in Newington, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island. Combined, they offer more than 40 million gallons of on-site storage. The terminals provide access to ships, rail and trucks. … Energy Transfer’s Marcus Hook terminal in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, is another key storage and distribution hub on the East Coast, fed in part by the Mariner East Pipeline. … An Enterprise pipeline extends from Mont Belvieu, Texas, into Pennsylvania and New York. Before it stops in Selkirk, in eastern New York, it offers multiple terminal locations.

Opportunity: With heating oil use common in the Northeast, retailers see opportunities to convert those customers to propane. “A lot of growth that we see is people switching from oil to propane,” says Paul Beiler, president of Sweetwater Propane in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. “When their furnaces wear out, they’ll replace them with propane instead of replacing them with the oil furnaces. That’s the primary growth outside of new homes.”

Cause for concern: The propane industry in New York faces leadership that wants to electrify the state. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act sets extreme targets for carbon reductions and mandates conversions to electric equipment. Learn more at smarternyenergy.org.

93%: Percentage of Northeast retailers in Gray, Gray & Gray’s 2022 propane survey who held some level of confidence that they would remain a viable energy provider given environmental concerns and the political climate.

Renewables watch: New York received its first delivery of renewable propane – in two 30,000-gallon rail cars – at Ray Energy’s rail and truck terminal in Hampton in 2022. Ray Energy then supplied Vermont’s first load of renewable propane, designated for autogas applications, to Proctor Gas.

Notable state and regional associations: Long Island Propane Gas Association, Pennsylvania Propane Gas Association, Propane Gas Association of New England, New Jersey Propane Gas Association, New York Propane Gas Association, Pennsylvania Petroleum Association

Did you know? You can find a “Propane and Energy” exhibit at the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The museum explores the role of America’s industrial achievements and accomplishments.

Wages: Propane retailers in the Northeast raised employee wages by 11 percent on average, according to LP Gas’ 2022 wage and benefits survey.

“What makes the Northeast market unique is the variety and unpredictability. We have hot summers, cold winters and varying-length shoulder seasons. It can be 0 degrees in October or 60 degrees in February. Both summer and winter storms can knock out power and create high demand from our generator customers. It can be difficult to make accurate predictions and plan ahead, and we have to be ready for anything.” – Chris Peterson, operations manager, Total Fuel Service, Plainville, Connecticut

Other sources: Propane Education & Research Council’s Annual Retail Propane Sales Report (2021); Pennsylvania Propane Gas Association; U.S. Energy Information Administration

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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