Cooper offers tips for consumers who heat with propane
Release date: 1/31/2014
Surge in prices raises concern among consumers during frigid winter
Raleigh: With propane prices continuing to rise, Attorney General Roy Cooper today encouraged consumers who heat their homes with propane to take steps to offset the recent surge in costs.
The price of propane has risen nationally as frigid temperatures hit many parts of the country, including North Carolina.
“I’m concerned that North Carolinians who rely on propane for heat are struggling to keep their homes warm during an especially cold winter,” Cooper said. “While it’s understandable that cold temperatures have increased the demand for propane and reduced its supply, we’re monitoring this closely to see if anything is artificially inflating consumers’ heating costs.”
Many North Carolinians use propane, a liquefied gas, to heat their homes, especially in rural areas. Propane is different from other energy sources, such as electricity and natural gas, because it is not regulated by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
Residential propane prices have increased steadily since the fall of 2013 and spiked even higher in January, with prices now averaging more than $4.00 a gallon nationwide compared to approximately $2.30 a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
According to the National Propane Gas Association, a number of factors have led propane to be scarce and expensive this winter, including a lower supply due to agricultural uses, the closing of a major propane pipeline in the Midwest for repairs, and an increase in propane exports to other countries. Most importantly, consumer demand for propane has soared during an unusually cold winter.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has received several complaints about high propane prices, and Cooper’s office is reviewing them carefully.
Meanwhile, Cooper encouraged consumers who heat with propane to:
Conserve propane by lowering the thermostat, cutting down on hot water usage and limiting cooking times.
Use alternative heating sources, such as fireplaces or electric space heaters.
Own propane tanks rather than rent them. Homeowners who own their tanks can shop around for the best prices, while those who rent a tank from a propane company are typically prohibited from buying propane from any other provider.
Consider a long-term contract in order to lock in a specific price for propane over a set period.
Shop around for a propane dealer that offers the best price and service, and consider all costs and fees, not just low introductory rates that will likely rise sharply later.
Any consumers who have evidence of any illegal activity related to propane prices can call the Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free with North Carolina or file a consumer complaint
online at www.ncdoj.gov
Contact: Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413