Nebraska Price Check: +2 Cents but still the Home of Low Prices

Nebraska: The home of Arbor Day ... and the cheapest propane in the land. (image: virtualtourist.com)

The numbers are out from Nebraska, and the state’s propane prices were the lowest in the Midwest last week. The average retail price for a gallon went up two cents to $1.68, according to the latest report from the Nebraska Energy Office (NEO).

That price edges out Iowa, where residents paid $1.71 a gallon to take second in the low-price rankings. (And in a curious display of propane prices imitating college football: Nebraska beat Iowa State in a close overtime victory in November, 31-30.)

Though at $1.68 a gallon, Cornhuskers are paying a dime more a gallon than last year. Propane prices like that could make it the state’s second highest heating season, behind the expensive 2007-2008 winter.

So why does Nebraska dominate the Midwest? The NEO points to minimal costs moving propane around the state, since its wholesale prices aren’t the cheapest in the region. Nebraska is also conveniently close to the major Midwest and Gulf Coast supply sources.

And the energy office concedes that retail prices could be lower in Kansas and Oklahoma, but neither state pools its propane data. So without the hard numbers, we have no choice but to use the performance of a state’s college football team as a bellwether of its propane prices.

Nebraska crushed Kansas this season, then lost to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship. It seems likely that Oklahoma, with its easy access to the propane kingdom of Texas, would have cheaper gas than Nebraska. But would Nebraska propane prices beat out Kansas? Tough call. Kansas has big stockpiles in the town of Conway.

(Note to the guys who wrote “Freakonomics“: We’re seeing a potential parallel here between college football performance and propane prices.)

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