Propane prices predicted to dramatically increase, rural KY county responds

Estill County's judge-executive says it could be financially draining

ESTILL COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – With the cost of everything going up and straining budgets, people are already worried about being able to afford to heat their homes and businesses this winter, especially if they use propane, which is more common in small towns and rural areas.

A Bloomberg report says the U.S. propane market could be headed for “Armageddon” this winter with a big price increase.

Estill County Judge-Executive Donnie Watson said an expected 54-percent increase in propane prices could be unsustainable for many.

“It’s a real problem,” Watson said.

He used his own propane tank as an example.

“Had my tank filled about a month, two months ago, and it was $420, and it was not completely empty.”

With a 54-percent increase, that could be more than 600-dollars.

“For people who are on a fixed income, that’s quite a bit, and of course, the suppliers can’t help it,” Watson said.

Hardy Gas Company is the county’s main propane supplier. Owner Pepper Hardy said prices have been slowly increasing since the summer – from about $2.19 to now about $2.55 a gallon.

“It’s been going up a little bit every day,” Hardy said.

Despite the increases, Hardy said he tries his best to keep prices low.

“Some companies will pass that surcharge to their customers, but I try to instill it all together in one price instead of charging individually different tax,” Hardy said.

Being in business 50 years, Hardy said he’s not worried about the expected dramatic increase.

“Every year they predict a bad winter,” Hardy said.

However, he said he know prices will go up, as they always do, so it’s best to stay ready.

“I just stay prepared and keep my tanks filled up, and I wish customers will do the same thing,” Hardy said.

He and Watson said another way to stay prepared is to insulate the home by covering windows and doors, and consider closing off seldom used rooms to save heat.

“We just have to deal with and take it a day at a time and hopefully it’ll get turned around,” Watson said.

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