“There’s always a big fight against pipelines,” Bensink said. He believes that it is the safest way to transport propane.
“You seldom hear about a pipeline problem,” Bensink said.
The infrastructure is likely 30-40 years old, Bensink said. Most of the product is transported by truck, as rail service in most towns – especially small towns – is nearly non-existent. When a shortage does occur, the trucks and drivers are forced to wait. Two Rivers had a truck wait in line a full 24 hours before it could get loaded.
Propane is used 365 days a year, but the fall and winter see the heaviest usage. Bensink believes the cooperative has been fortunate with dry crops the past couple of years, but not this year.
“You can never tell when that’s going to happen,” Bensink said. The most important thing for a propane customer to remember is that contracting and budget billing begins in May. Bensink said this is the easiest and safest way to control costs through the winter. For Two Rivers, budget billing is based on a four-year average usage. Contracting with the cooperative is an option for a specified number of gallons. When those gallons run out, however, customers are at the mercy of supply and demand. The worst situation, however, is for someone to not plan ahead for winter. Bensink said no one wants to see a customer run out of its heating fuel during the winter, but the propane situation will remain volatile through the winter, at least one more month.