High cost of propane leaves few options for some Missourians

WESTON, Mo. - With more cold in the forecast, families are trying to figure out how to pay their heating bills.

Homes that use propane saw the biggest increase this year. Last winter, the average family using propane paid around $942. This year, that bill is expected to jump more than $400. It’s a bill many can’t afford.

Carol Reeves watches her propane tank daily.

On Thursday she had 23 percent left at her northern Platte County home.

“We've been scared to use it, seriously” she said.

That's because the last time she ran out, she had to pay $5 a gallon, totaling $680 for one fill-up.

“I mean not for car gasoline, for propane to heat your house. I thought $1.89 was horrible in the fall,” Reeves said.

Since then, she and her husband have used electric heaters and their wood stove. They tried anything to stay warm, but that made things worse.

“Our pipes froze up and busted and now because we had to use all these electric heaters, they're going to shut my lights off,” Reeves said.

She raked up an electric bill of more than $1,000 over two months.

Ten percent of Missouri homes use propane. This year, prices doubled and in some cases almost tripled. Reeves and her family did qualify for some heating assistance, but she used that up quickly.

“That's it, you get that for the whole year so that used it up,” she said.

Governor Nixon announced in January almost $15 million in federal and state money will go toward helping propane users. That will be distributed to the nearly 250,000 homes in Missouri.

The price of propane is coming down slowly. On Thursday, users would have paid $3.25 a gallon, but the prices go up when demand does.

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