Posted By: Camila Orti
Roughly ten percent of Nebraskans use propane to heat their homes. That's more than 50,000 households that could be wondering how they'll be able to afford their bills.
"You have to fill it up, you can't live without it," Jack Soukup of Davey said.
Soukup cooks his food, heats his house and water with propane- a gas that's figuratively turned to gold the last few weeks. It's nearly tripled in price since the beginning of the month.
"We're going to have to put out a lot of money to have it filled up if the price stays as high as it is," Soukup said.
Otte Oil and Propane provides the gas to thousands of Nebraskans in the area. Owner John Otte says he's never seen a shortage like this in his life.
"Couple of weeks ago they were about $1.80, now a call in customer is going to be over 5 dollars. It's unprecedented, we've never had this situation before," Otte said.
For someone who heats their home with propane, that means paying about $1,000 for a tank that normally costs $400.
Those of us who don't heat our home with propane could still be feeling the spike, a typical 4–gallon tank you'd use for your grill at home is going to cost you double what you're used to paying, about $35 a pop.
The Nebraska Propane Gas Association says there are three main factors contributing to the spike. Pipe maintenance last fall decreased the amount of propane distributed to the terminals. Then, a late harvest forced farmers to use more propane than usual.
"It didn't mature right so they had to cure it with propane by drying it so they could store it without it rotting," Otte said.
The cold snap hit the country shortly after, keeping demand for the gas high without a chance for distributors to replenish their stock.
"Hopefully winter's over when it's supposed to be over, that'd be our best resolve," Otte said.
The only advice sellers can give is try to conserve energy. If you've got a propane–heated home, turn down the thermostat. Also, if you're able, wait until the cold's over before refilling your tanks.