December Energy Update

Dec 03, 2019

Well, that was an interesting autumn. I didn’t know whether to break out the snowmobiles, mow the lawn or start building an ark. I did manage to get the lawn mowed one last time and inspect my snowmobiles. I think I’m ready for winter. Make sure you are prepared for winter by having a ready supply of propane or fuel oil to keep your house warm through the short, cold days of winter. If you call in your orders please call when your tank reaches 30 percent for propane or ¼ full for your fuel oil so you don’t get yourself in a bind. Route customers (customers who we deliver to on a scheduled basis) receive priority so you may have to wait a few days for your order to be delivered.
November was a challenging month for propane companies. We’ll see what December has to bring. The late harvest combined with the blast of cold weather stretched our propane supply chain a bit. The problem isn’t that we don’t have enough propane in the United States. Heck, we export nearly half of the propane produced in the United States. The issue is where it’s located and the distribution network required to get it to where it needs to be. 
There are deep salt cave caverns in Conway, Kansas where most of the Midwest’s propane supply is stored. We get quite a bit via Canada by rail as well. (Currently the Canadian National Railway is on strike and hopefully it will be settled by the time you read this article.) Getting propane to where it’s needed can be a challenge when we have a late harvest and cold weather or when we have several days of below zero temperatures. We use pipelines and rail terminals to keep us supplied with propane but they can max out quickly and then put us on allocation, which means they only give us a limited number of semi loads per day. 
You may have heard of propane companies shutting off their crop dryers over the past several weeks. We managed to stay full and were able to supply all of our ag, commercial and residential customers. We were even able to supply other cooperatives with excess loads of propane that we were able to acquire. 
Here’s how we do it. First, our energy team has worked years to develop relationships with several different suppliers. We are good to them and they are good to us in return. As the old saying goes, you can get more flies with sugar than with vinegar. If they have an extra load of propane we will often be the first ones they call. Our experienced staff can work the phones to get supply for your cooperative when other propane companies can’t.  
Next, we pull from rail terminals and pipelines in the summer to earn us allocation when the pipelines and rail terminals have their supply curtailed. We could buy inexpensive propane in the summer from the refineries like the discount companies do but they won’t have supply for us in the winter when supply is tight as it is now.
If you were one of the folks who had their propane supply shut off, give us a call in June and lock in a contract. We may not be the least expensive but we add value by being the cooperative that has the best chance of supplying your needs when supply gets tight. It doesn’t matter how inexpensive your contract is if you can’t get propane when you need it. 
Thank you for your business. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

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