New facility will help, but prepare for propane shortages
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved a storage facility that could ease a second straight winter propane shortage.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said the corps approved the 1 million-gallon facility at “record speed” so it will be ready for this fall’s harvest.
However, Klobuchar said while touring Farmfest exhibits that the facility will only make up a third of the propane transportation capacity lost when the owners of a pipeline decided to no longer move propane through it. She said shortages are expected again this year.
“This still is a major challenge,” she said.
The project is at the Dooley Petroleum facility in Benson in west-central Minnesota. The new storage will be in addition to 1.5 million gallons Dooley already has available.
Klobuchar called the federal action a partial victory. She also was part of a provision that requires government officials to be notified of an impending propane shortage.
Last winter, propane supplies were short for a variety of reasons. Those shortages sent propane prices soaring. Some Minnesotans had trouble obtaining the fuel, which is used to dry grain, heat livestock facilities and heat homes.
“Last winter’s propane shortage meant Minnesotans paid near record prices to heat their homes and left many facing uncertainty about propane access in the future,” said U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.
Peterson, Klobuchar and U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., wrote a letter to the corps seeking permission to build the new facility.
“I heard from everyone, from homeowners who couldn’t afford to heat their homes to turkey growers who couldn’t heat their barns,” Franken said.
Propane heats more than 250,000 Minnesota homes, mostly in rural areas.
About 40 percent of Minnesota’s propane flowed through the pipeline that no longer is bringing fuel to the state.
Klobuchar said propane that does not arrive via other pipelines or rails will come in trucks, a more expensive way to move the fuel.