Nebraska Price Check: +1/2 Cent, Still the Low-Cost King

The sun sets on a Nebraska cornfield. (image: Lexi Christensen via flickr.com)

It was a volatile week for retail propane prices, judging by the federal data. Looking at the state averages, Rhode Island posted a sharp gain, several states were flat, and New Jersey — home to the record high gallon price of the winter — dropped for the second week in a row. Meantime, Nebraska’s retail propane was up a half-cent, for a negligible percentage increase, according to today’s report from the state energy office.

And sure as an earworm finds a cornstalk, that was good enough for the Cornhusker State to hold onto its crown as the low-cost propane king (at least among the states that report their numbers). Iowa was #2. North Dakota was #3.

Where’s that late-season price plateau? In recent winters, retail propane prices have flattened out in January, as the picture of the heating season develops. And though the nationwide trend has been steady week-to-week gains since October, the inflection point should hit soon. Last year, the momentum broke in mid-January, though clearly customers will have to be a bit more patient for this year’s price plateau.

So we’ll head into the weekend mulling over a few things: Wholesale propane actually decreased a half-penny on average last week, and a full penny in Nebraska, showing a little stability after the sharp rise the week before. The Midwest and Gulf Coast regions appear to be sitting on ample supplies. But then crude oil — a barometer of propane prices — went mountaineering this afternoon, after curfew-defying protestors filled the streets of Cairo and gave investors the jitters about the region’s stability.

We’ll see what the numbers look like in a week, but take this to the bank: Next Friday, Nebraska’s retail propane will still be cheapest in the land.

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