Propane Price Check: +3 Cents Last Week

Add a quarter: Residential propane prices are trending like last year's, 25 cents higher. (image: Energy Information Administration)

Residential propane prices continued their winter upswing last week. The US retail price for a gallon of the good stuff crept up another three cents, according to federal data released this afternoon.

That is a quarter above the price in December 2009. But check the graph: this year’s price trend sure looks a lot like last year’s. That winter, propane took its sharpest percentage gains at the beginning of January, then plateaued for the rest of heating season.

So let’s speculate: Will this year’s prices continue follow suit? Maybe.

Government weathermen have forecasted a milder winter than the “Snowmageddon” that hit last year. That would mean less action at the thermostat, and a dip in consumption. Current supplies fall in their historic range, but demand is noticeably down from last year — more than 300,000 barrels a day.

That said, demand is warming up after a flat autumn. Today, local news stories in Tennessee and New Jersey have propane retailers talking up sales. And who predicted the snowstorm that blasted the Midwest this weekend? Certainly not the Minnesota Vikings…

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