Friday, 10 January 2014

There is a propane shortage in SE Ontario, Canada

Hooray - we're full again!
Right now, mostly in southeastern Ontario. It's a bit worrisome. That said, we had propane delivered yesterday, and they were filled to the top. We were only down to about 54% of our tanks. I was rather relieved, although we do have a wood insert in our fireplace and lots of wood. I've been religious about keeping a fire on those really cold days. It's darn fine exercise, too! An excellent plank in my weight loss resolution program. (I'm down 3k after eating my way through the fall!)
Hurray! A propane fill-up

When we bought the house, we had it converted from oil to propane, which is the only alternative in rural Ontario. Natural Gas isn't an option outside the city. I'm happy we did. There were horror stories about old oil tanks leaking, totally polluting the ground and groundwater, and homes being condemned.  I had my parent's home converted back in 2006. They had electric heat. It was an interesting process. Our 2nd hand tanks had a leak, at one point. The company in Bala replaced the tanks, but it wasn't easy in cottage country! I had fun making videos of the process.

Why the propane shortage?

EON News reports:
Prices will rise due to a shortage, and that many tanks will not be filled to capacity. The issue arose in the summer, when farmers in the US used propane to dry out their corn crops.
"Much of the crop was still wet and needed to be run through propane powered dryers to avoid spoilage, creating a surge in demand for the fuel."
The 1,900-mile Cochin pipeline carries propane southeastward from Canada.
Another factor was that the Cochin Pipeline system had maintenance done, which reduced supplies in the summer. This press release in June: Propane Supply to Remain Secure after Refinery Closure certainly isn't comforting after the fact, which is obviously wrong!

There has been some CBC radio fuss about one company, Levac Propane, which told Ottawa radio station CFRA that they had shortages. I chalked it down to one customer, but it has hit the news elsewhere and the comments on news items are telling (see below). They found someone in Mallorytown, with MS, who was wrestling with Levac and was totally out of propane. (People with MS need to keep warm.) Sometimes you wonder if it's an outlier, what with Media and all! Finally, they have checked in with experts, who believe that the shortage is real and will last until March, especially if low temperatures continue.

gas delivery
Listening to Dan McTeague, an energy expert on gas prices, he confirmed this information. What irks some is that in the US companies must comply with posting propane reserve amounts, but Canada doesn't have a similar law. Perhaps due to the Back Off Government notion of some citizens and businesses in Canada.

The Canadian Propane Association issued a news release Friday, saying that "due to early and sustained colder than normal winter temperatures, some propane retailers in certain areas of Ontario and Quebec are experiencing delays."

Good old days

Comments on a news report:

  • This is our second winter with Levac after changing from oil to propane after so much pressure from our insurance company...we were used to having very good service from MacEwan's so we were pretty shocked and pissed off to be the victims of such shoddy service from Levacs. We ALWAYS have to call for a fill-up..the last time we were waiting for 2 or 3 days and our tanks were getting VERY low. My husband SAW the truck drive right by..he's more mild mannered than me and said they'd probably come back shortly. I was convinced they wouldn't so I got on the phone and demanded an explanation. The person I spoke to said she call and tell him to come back..and 2 hours or so later, he did. Lucky for them! Our tanks aren't as low yet as that time but we already have a call in ...let's hope they show up ..the funny thing is that 3 weeks ago or so, my sister ran out of propane and was left in the cold for 2 days. The explanation they gave her was that they were short on drivers?? Nothing mentioned about a propane shortage..It's starting to smell pretty bad and many excuses ..and so many unhappy customers...
  • I can understand a shortage,but your people on the phones are rude & need a coarse (sic) in manners. My father is 86 years old. When he told the supplier he could not stand this kind of stress. The man said he did not care even if he was 106. What on earth is wrong with your customer service??? This may have cost you at least 10 other people that I know of, to switch to a different company. My household included. A supply shortage will not be the only reason you are loosing business.
  • It's funny that Levac is the only company having problems with delivery. Their customer service is beyond horrible and they have left numerous people without heat. This is them trying to cover themselves. Maybe this story should be investigated a bit more.
  • Well I have been without Propane since noon yesterday. I continue to get promises of delivery from Levac which never comes. I am normally on automatic delivery and have always paid my bill when I receive it on delivery day. I have spoken to another supplier who has NO SHORTAGE because they purchased their annual quota's some time ago. I will survive this cold right now but Levac's may not! I am switching as soon as possible and I encourage others to do the same. It is the only recourse for such poor service.
  • We have been out of propane for 4 days now. Luckily we have a woodstove. What bothers me is that for 4 days we have tried to reach Levac to no avail. We have tried every Phone number available . Even calling their partner company in Maxville Ont for answers. They tried to reach them too and nothing. I also sent faxes that were not even acknowledged. That is the part that left a bitter taste in my mouth. We have another company coming to remove their tank and install new ones. Thanks for the horrible customer service Levac. You certainly have handled this CRISIS and that is what it is to people with no heat very POORLY......


Hilary said...

Ours was just filled on Tuesday and had been down to 30%. I never checked to see if it was fill up to capacity after they left.

Pearl said...

propane dried crops. beats hand and knees and a long extension cord but yikes.

Red said...

You leave no stone unturned on this issue. There is some very shoddy service these days and customer service? some of these people have never heard of it.

Christine said...

didn't know about this shortage.

Kay said...

I'm glad you're fueled up and set for the cold weather.

Powell River Books said...

A propane shortage would be terrible for us. Like you, it is our primary source of power. We use it for lights, refrigeration and stove. Our needs are simple, we use one 40 pound tank a month for all our appliances. But getting it delivered would be great. It isn't so bad loading the empties into the boat and taking them town to get filled, but taking them back down the dock is a lot harder. We used to use 60 pound tanks. They lasted longer, but we much harder to manage physically. - Margy