By NIKKI YOUNK
IRON MOUNTAIN - Although propane prices have declined since the peak of the region-wide propane shortage about a month ago, they remain far above normal.
Nikki Younk/Daily News Photo
Dean Chartier fills a propane truck at U.P. Propane in Iron Mountain. Propane prices have fallen from an all-time high of $5.99 per gallon to around $3 per gallon.
Dan Harrington of U.P. Propane in Iron Mountain said that prices are "still moderately high" at about $3 per gallon. Usual winter prices are below $2 per gallon, he added.
Still, $3 per gallon is a significant decrease from the $5.99 per gallon that Harrington was dealing with at the end of January.
"Hopefully it keeps tapering off," he said. "By summer, we should be back to some semblance of normalcy."
Prior to this winter's shortage, the highest propane price Harrington had seen was $2.49 per gallon.
The propane shortage was caused by increased demand due to higher than average usage for crop-drying in the Midwest and Great Plains area, winter weather setting in sooner and more severely than anticipated, and repairs to a propane pipeline serving the Upper Midwest.
With residents across the region struggling to heat their homes, both state and local governments took action.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said the Department of Human Services, the Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. are taking steps to help residents with heating and financial assistance. He said the Department of Transportation and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs are also working to ease supply chain issues.
Locally, the Florence County Sheriff's Department was ready to make heated shelter available to any residents who needed it.
Harrington said that propane demand remains high as bitter cold temperatures persist.
According to information from the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Wastewater Treatment Plant in Breitung Township, high temperatures on Jan. 6, 7, and 27 did not even reach above zero. High temperatures throughout January and February rose above the freezing point on only a handful of days.
Arctic cold returned to the area this week, with temperatures on Thursday ranging from a high of two degrees to a low of 24 degrees below zero.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.