For those who heat their homes with propane, there’s encouraging news, according to Harold Hommes, a fuels analyst at the Iowa Department of Agriculture.
“We are just off of record levels of propane inventory in the Midwest,” Hommes says. “From the supply side standpoint, we’re looking really, really good going into the fall and winter. We’ll wait and see what kind of ag demand we have.” A normal demand is anticipated from farmers as there are no reports of unusually wet grain that would require excessive drying. It’s a far cry from the situation two years ago.
“That was sort of the perfect storm where low inventories going into the fall came together with an unusually wet harvest because farmers were not able to get those crops in on time,” Hommes says. “If you’re planting later, the maturity is later and it backs everything up.” In January of 2014, Iowa hit a record high for propane at just over five dollars a gallon, while prices now are about one-fifth that. In talking with the state climatologist, Hommes says it doesn’t appear the winter ahead in Iowa will have an atypical impact on the usage and supply of propane.
“We’re thinking we may see a little bit more moisture this year than we have in the past, especially early on, but the temps aren’t supposed to be unusually cold,” Hommes says. “We might see a little bit of spiking in some home heating demand, especially with the onset of winter.” At last report, propane prices in Iowa were averaging a dollar-three a gallon ($1.03), which is about a nickel higher than a year ago. It’s estimated 67-percent of Iowans use natural gas to heat their homes, 15-percent use electricity and 14-percent use liquid propane.
(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)