National Propane Price Check: Residential Prices Hold Steady as Heating Season Winds Down

As snow melts around the country, retail propane prices are flattening out. (image:

It turns out that the official forecast for this week’s average retail prices was right on. Editor Pete Dybdahl’s prediction last Wednesday that “retail prices will be flat next Wednesday” proved to accurate (except for the Wednesday part—this week’s petroleum price data from the EIA was released on Thursday due to the Presidents’ Day holiday). This week’s report from the Department of Energy’s EIA showed a decrease of just one-tenth of a cent per gallon in the national average propane price. The East Coast region’s average retail price fell by two-tenths of a penny, while the average price in the Midwest did not budge.

The national average wholesale propane price went up half a cent, led by a 2.7-cent increase in East Coast wholesale prices.

Each year, propane prices rise steadily as temperatures drop and propane consumers increase demand by burning more fuel for home heating. As the winter tapers off, so does propane demand, making for a plateau in retail prices. This week’s report of flat prices could very well mark the beginning of the 2011 price plateau.

Interestingly, propane prices have so far escaped increases driven by political turmoil in the Middle East and violent revolt in Libya. Crude oil and other petroleum fuels have seen huge price increases in recent weeks as Middle East protest movements have escalated. Flat propane prices reported next week would confirm that the spring price plateau has in fact begun and propane will remain unaffected by Middle East crude oil supply concerns.

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