It was a familiar story when the Energy Information Administration (EIA) put out its latest numbers this afternoon: another price increase, a new record.
Last week, the average retail price for a gallon of propane nudged exactly two cents higher for a 0.7 percent increase. The East Coast led the way with a three-penny rise, while the Midwest came in about a penny above last week’s price. All of which is good enough for a new record high.
Residential propane has been on a tear, breaking average highs for six weeks straight. The gallon price has been ascending since October — a common trend during the heating season, but one that’s still got customers crossing their fingers for prices to plateau.
But we’re seeing a few good omens. Wholesale propane prices have flattened out lately, softening by a half-cent in the past week to catch last year’s average price. It also looks like the long-awaited repairs to the propane pipeline in upstate New York are complete, which should ease the pressure on the Northeastern supply. And last, crude oil prices are down this week, following news that the United Kingdom’s economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2010. So we’ll see where that puts us in a week.