It's hit many New Yorkers where it hurts the most, the pocketbooks. The demand for propane has far out-risen the supply and it has companies struggling to keep up. Barry Wygel has the details on a plan that would not only keep propane users supplied, but would save them money as well.
NEW YORK STATE -- While New Yorkers may be used to paying higher than average heating bills in the winter, for propane customers, this year is something they haven't seen before.
"I do know of companies that have had to short-fill. I do know of companies that have cut off by their suppliers," said Joe Porco, vice president of Porco Energy.
But even if you can get propane, you may not be able to afford it. According to the Propane Gas Association, prices have gone up 40 percent this winter, costing New Yorkers $84 million.
"They are not gouging. The supply is so short, and they have to go so far to get it, that it drives up the cost of it," said Sen. George Maziarz.
Senator Maziarz and industry officials say there is an easy fix to the problem. One that was proposed four years ago, and would've prevented the skyrocketing of prices this winter. Keeping propane at a storage facility that used to operate in the Southern Tier.
"This company bought it, wants to retrofit it to use it as a propane storage facility, with better technology, putting in the latest safeguards. They filed a permit with the DEC four years ago, and have been waiting ever since," said Maziarz."
The DEC says due to the complex nature of the permit, they are continueing to review it. Proponents say the project would essentially be a quick fix for the problems facing the propane industry in New York.
"New York is fortunate, that we are one of the few, if not the only state in the entire Northeast that has an actionable solution to this problem," said Rick Cummings, president of the New York Propane Gas Association.
The company says if approved, they could begin storing and selling propane to local companies in as little as three months.
But even if that happens, it won't help homeowners with this winter's high bills.