Today, the Pine Tree State gave us a glimmer of hope. The average retail price for a gallon of Maine propane dropped two pennies last week, according to the report that the state energy office put out today. That’s barely a half-percent decline, but it’s the thought that counts: Prices may be flattening out.
We’ve been tracking the numbers for two weeks now, searching for any indication of a price plateau. Last week, the story from Maine was grim. Prices went up a nickel a gallon, which presaged an increase (albeit smaller) for the country later that week. So we’ll take today’s slip as the sign of weakening prices, and look for a national decline to follow. It would be the heating season’s first price drop, following seven straight record-breaking weeks of retail propane prices.
Going by the propane history books, prices have followed a semi-predictable line: keep rising through the New Year, then flatten out in late January. This year, late January has turned into February without any weakening. There were some encouraging signs from the Great Plains, and now we’re playing the optimist with these numbers from Maine. And we’ll take stock again when the federal data come out in two days.