Propane shortage hits rural towns


RICEVILLE, Iowa – A propane shortage effecting much of the US is now hitting rural communities hard as temperatures continue to drop.

In a larger community, the difference may not be noticeable, but in rural towns like Riceville, it can make the difference for weathering the bitter cold.

“There’s no excuse for it to go up $.15 Friday night, $.14 on Saturday, $.15 on Monday. There’s no excuse for that, because now all of a sudden we don’t have any because you shipped it all or exported it to the Gulf of Mexico,” said Harry Janson, Manager of Riceville Lumber.

Jansen helps provide propane for three cities in the county and after hearing of a shortage for the first time, Harry decided to contact his area lawmaker who just so happens to be a Riceville native.

“They’re small-scale but yet they’re not because we’re talking about an entire community there. I mean every home in Riceville is dependent upon their LP tank and we have other small communities around the area that are in the same boat as they are,” said State Rep. Josh Byrnes.

As temperatures plummet in Iowa and Minnesota, the need for propane in these communities relying on the gas is rising each day.

However both Iowa and Minnesota now face propane prices almost $.30 per gallon higher than before
and Byrnes says it’s brought on by a variety of factors.

“To me it seems like it’s almost this perfect storm. We got hit with the cold temps, oversold our supply chain, we got some regulations that are coming into effect, we got high prices overseas,” said Byrnes.

By getting the message out about the state of propane in rural Iowa, both Jansen and Byrnes hope to gain the attention of Capitol Hill.

“We can actually come together as a larger voice and send a message to Washington DC to folks like Sen. Harkin, Grassley and those folks and just say, you know what, here’s what’s happening back home, we need you guys to start asking the tough questions,” said Byrnes.

Several propane dealers say they have now resorted to driving far out-of-state to get propane, but say regulations in Iowa and Minnesota are limiting how long they can spend on the roads hauling it.

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