Minnesota Propane Crisis Appears to be Easing

Updated: 02/13/2014 7:45 AM KSTP.com By: Tom Hauser

The propane "crisis" in Minnesota is "trending toward improvement." That's the assessment of a Minnesota Department of Commerce official who briefed state lawmakers on Wednesday. 

"Families, farmers and small businesses have witnessed firsthand the dramatic rise in propane costs," Bill Grant testified before members of the joint House-Senate Legislative Energy Commission. He says the department has received many complaints from Minnesotans wondering if price gouging has been occurring, which his department is investigating.

Grant says the average price of propane has dropped to $3.47 per gallon, down from $4.67 two weeks ago. However, it's still more than double the average price of $1.67 per gallon reported in October.

The price spike is blamed on heavy use of propane by farmers drying their crops during a wet fall, a disruption in the supply chain and the coldest Midwest winter in more than 30 years.

The Commerce Department expects the price to continue dropping as the temperature rises in the next week.