From the Associated Press:
Supply problems in several states where propane is a crucial heating source have prompted governors and other officials to take action against vendors, investigate claims of price gouging and increase aid to low-income customers.
The propane drain coincides with extreme cold temperatures in several Midwestern and Southern states where residents and business owners are struggling to keep heating tanks filled due to increased costs or supply cut-offs.
"The industry as a whole should have been prepared for this," Missouri state Sen. Mike Parson said Wednesday. Parson is urging the U.S. Justice Department to investigate rising prices in his state. "We should be able to figure out what our supply and demand is."
National supplies of propane were depleted by a late harvest that increased demand from farmers who needed to dry an unusually large amount of grain before storage. As colder-than-normal temperatures spread across much of the country, supplies dropped to the lowest level ever during the second week of January.
The national average price for a gallon of propane spiked this week to a little over $4, up from $2.96 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association. About 5.5 million homes are heated with propane, mostly in rural areas.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)