August 4, 2021
With temperatures reaching into the 90s the last week in July, winter seemed far away. But in February 2021, a historic winter weather storm, Uri, smacked the mid US, from Texas all the way to Canada. Affecting 170 million Americans, nearly 10 million Americans lost power, with rolling blackouts crippling Texas and other states. It was the largest winter storm related power outage since 2003.
State of Emergency Declared
At that time, Governor Mike Parsons declared a propane emergency for the state of Missouri beginning February 11th that was extended twice and ended February 28th. Despite the storm, MS Propane carried the torch to customers and to the communities it serves.
“In normal winter weather a customer might burn 100 gallons in a month. We were seeing burn rates three times that number,” said David Sanford, managing partner with the company. “When a tank holds about 400 gallons, nearly everyone needed a refill. Those with smaller tanks sometimes needed two refills. Our delivery drivers and support staff were heroes during that time. It was a matter of life and death, and they were a shining example of professionalism and care for their customers.”
Protecting the Grid
MS Propane’s transport services also delivered hundreds of thousands of gallons to City Utilities of Springfield Missouri during a crisis situation. When their supplier could not keep up with their emergency supply, MS Propane handled the delivery, with less than two days to spare before the residents of Springfield would be affected.
Ice that blocks natural gas flow is called a freeze out, causing natural gas outages. Additionally. a percentage of electricity is produced with natural gas. City Utilities keeps 400,000 gallons of propane stored for such emergencies. But the supply is only meant to last a few days.
During the emergency, the volatility of propane supply caused prices to fluctuate with each freight delivery. They were changing hourly. Prices spiked as high as $4.00 per gallon. But those customers that had purchased their gas at summer prices, including pre-buy and level pay customers, were not affected. They paid around $1.39 earlier in the year.
Preparing for winter weather is a year long process. Customers can be hesitant to order gas in advance and some wait until the last minute. Training customers to order their gas when they are at 25% is important so delivery technicians can reach everyone.
“When an emergency is declared, regular routing and delivery are put on hold and MS Propane goes into crisis mode. We deliver to those customers that reached the lowest levels. Our customers are used to getting their gas quickly without concern.
Reaching at least 80% of our customers during a three week period was extremely difficult but we got them filled. By the end of March, we were caught up on deliveries and back to business as usual,” stated Sanford.
MS Propane has six locations across Southwest Missouri and has been in business since 2004.