• Leslie Williams
  • Faith-Ingle-Smith 1
  • Faith-Ingle-Smith 2
  • Faith-Ingle-Smith 3
  • Sheriff's tipline
Sun, Oct 26, 2014 02:56 AM
Issue of October 22, 2014
Email Link
February 05, 2014 | 10:16 AM

With a winter that has seen plenty of days at below-freezing temperatures, some residents are boiling at the cost of propane.

David Schroeder of near Crandall checks the gauge on his underground propane tank. The meter indicated he had about 30 percent left. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor (click for larger version)
Paul Jekel of New Salisbury was shocked when he checked the ticket left by his propane supplier after he had his 250-gallon tank filled last week.

Jekel, who leases his tank from Ferrellgas Inc., said he's done business with the Corydon company "for many years," dating back at least a couple of decades when it was Skelgas.

"I'd been watching (the tank's meter) pretty close," he said.

When the meter showed there was 20 percent of propane remaining, Jekel called and placed an order for more.

"I was told it would be sometime the following week" before it would be delivered, he said. "They didn't tell me there was a shortage; they never told me I had to stretch it out."

The delivery was made Jan. 27. Jekel, who lives on a monthly pension, said he wasn't home at the time.

"I live a simple life," he said. "I don't have a computer, and I don't watch the news."

So, when Jekel looked at the delivery ticket and saw a total bill of $701.94, he was angry.

The $4.67-per-gallon price, which Jekel called "extortion" and "price gouging," was nearly double what he said he had been paying recently.

"I usually get it during the summer," he said. "It's been between $2.09 and $2.29."

David Schroeder of near Crandall was lucky when he requested more propane for his tank.

"I ordered propane (Jan. 20) but did not receive it until the following Saturday due to demand," he said.

He was told by his supplier that, if he had ordered it on Jan. 25, he would have paid $5 per gallon. Instead, he was able to get it for $2.78

"The price went from $1.90 on Dec. 4 to $2.78 when I ordered it," Schroeder said.

Propane suppliers say there was a shortage before winter arrived, as a larger quantity of propane was used after a wet summer to keep grain dry. And, to add to the reduction, propane producers generally ship propane overseas to increase profits.

State Sen. Richard D. Young Jr., D-Milltown, said that the U.S. Dept. of Transportation has issued an emergency declaration of the Southern Indiana region, but he is trying to get additional relief for propane users.

"The action (by the U.S. DOT) has some effect on delivery of propane but does nothing to help the supply," Young said. "In response, I have contacted Gov. Mike Pence for additional help."

Young has urged Pence to declare a state of emergency.

"This situation is a serious crisis that demands action by the governor," he said. "We need to protect Hoosiers from both the cold and from any price-gouging associated with the shortage in supply."

Young voted last week to approve an amendment to Senate Bill which would require the sales tax collected in January through March by propane companies on purchases that exceed $2.50 a gallon be credited to consumers toward their future purchases.

"Price-gouging protections must be acted upon if the governor takes the urgently needed step of declaring a state of emergency," Young said. "I have asked him to take this measure, as other states have done, to mitigate this crisis as soon as possible."

Young encouraged consumers, like Jekel, who believe they may have been charged an exorbiant amount, to contact the Consumer Complaint Division of the Attorney General's office by calling 1-866-241-9753 or online at

For Jekel, he said his bill is "almost more than I draw a month."

A phone call to one local propane supplier was not returned by press time yesterday, and the number to another supplier was busy when called.

  1. print email
    Become a Tank Owner
    February 06, 2014 | 12:37 PM

    Unfortunately, I have experienced the issues this article discusses. Suburban Propane (previously Silgas) ... quoted me at $4.09/gal. in NOVEMBER, when other propane companies were quoting $2.20 - $2.50/gal. Then in early January, they were charging $4.29/gal. Of course, this price does not include delivery fees or taxes, and there is a 150gal minimum. For comparison, I called a different local company who quoted $2.45. When I questioned the price with Suburban, their only response was that they must charge this amount to provide "customer service" and make the profit they need. This was all before the talk about shortages, delivery issues, etc. When they own the tank on your property, you are at their mercy. They charge whatever they want to charge. What if Harrison REMC decided to do this type of thing during peak electricity usages? I will not deal with this company again. I suggest all Suburban Propane customers read some reviews online ... I will be purchasing my own tank before my next fill, and I suggest everyone else in the county do the same.

    Burning Through Our Savings
  2. print email
    Shooting themselves in the foot
    February 10, 2014 | 05:20 PM

    It will be interesting to see how many more outdoor wood boilers start popping up after this winter. These prices are only good for the suppliers short term but when they loose a customer to wood they loose that customer for good. There are alternatives to propane. Anger over these high prices is an excellent motivator to explore some of those alternatives.
    I also use Ferrellgas. $2.11 was my price per gallon on my last fill-up (2nd of the season). My total was $880.00 with fees, taxes etc.
    It's not all the fault of the local distributors but they do tack on a HUGE mark-up over their wholesale cost per gallon.
    Geothermal, wood, air source heat-pumps are all possible alternatives to propane furnaces.
    How long would it take for a new system to pay for itself at these prices? I suspect many are asking themselves that question right now.
    Tax incentives are available for some new furnaces :-)

Alberto's Italian Restaurant
Barbara Shaw
Debby Broughton
Best Built
Riggs Towing
Schuler Bauer Real Estate
Corydon Instant Print
RSS Feed

Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 1-812-738-2211 email