In addition, the Cochin Pipeline, which supplies propane to the Midwest from Canada, was out of service for maintenance from late November to Dec. 20, and unavailable to deliver supplies. EIA says rail transportation disruptions, both due to weather and other factors, also affected inventories in late January.
Though supplies have rebounded, EIA said Monday, they are still below the 5-year average in the Midwest.
In effort to help producers combat high propane prices, Purdue University Extension on Monday unveiled a new web page dedicated to propane conservation and resources.
"We want people to know that this crisis isn't just about them; it's also about their neighbors," said Abby Hostetler, a Purdue Extension Disaster Education Network communications specialist who provided the information on the website. "We're encouraging users that if their tank is at least 30% of capacity to let others who might need propane more get it. So conserve what you have rather than rush to get more."
Steven Cain of Brookston, Ind., EDEN homeland security project director, uses propane gas to heat his home. He noted that the price of propane, also known as LP gas, has risen from a fall contract rate of about $1.50 a gallon for 1,000 gallons in his area to a pay-as-you-go rate of more than $4 a gallon. Customers can get only partial refills because of the rationing, he said.
"At the end of January, we received a letter from our supplier telling us to be prepared to seek alternative heating," he said. "We are watching the LP tank gauge very closely, conserving as much as we can and hoping to make it through February."
Farmers, too, are keeping an eye on supplies. Purdue offers propane conservation tips for producers with heated barns:
• Lower the temperature, but keep an eye on animal comfort
• Monitor ventilation systems; make sure they don't compete with heaters
• Consider an energy audit
Read more on Purdue's new website and check out How To Keep Farm Propane Use Under Control.