NEVADA CITY, Calif. — After months of constant rain, high winds and power outages, Nevada City residents are finally getting answers to why they weren’t getting propane delivered when they began to run out.
Jennifer Heatherman was running low on propane around March 3 after storms knocked out her power for 10 days.
She said she and her family were going to have to evacuate to a neighbor's house, but they couldn’t get to them because the roads were blocked by downed power lines, collapsed trees and mountains of snow.
The conditions made it difficult for propane trucks to get through and deliver their tanks.
“I think a lot of this could have been avoided if the propane companies were proactive instead of reactive,” said Heatherman.
She, like most, gets her propane stock from the Western Propane Gas Association — the largest propane supplier in the nation.
Their CEO Colin Sueyres says the company got about 100 phone calls and emails like Heatherman’s asking for propane.
“The snow, the downed lines and all the other closed roadways became the single biggest impediment to making those deliveries,” he said, adding if consumers got a busy signal when calling the company, it’s because every person who could possibly drive a propane delivery truck was sent out on deliveries. “There is no other way to deliver propane.”
He says even if trucks could get to the delivery site, there’s no telling what the conditions around the tank were and that would potentially be detrimental to the delivery.
The association says their plan moving forward is better communication and education to their consumers.
Many people bought generators for the storms and for outages during fire season, but weren’t aware of how much propane went into running them.
“Some of these generators can draw as much as 16 or more gallons an hour of propane. A lot of consumers were shocked when we talked to them about that,” said Sueyres. “We’re working with local emergency responders in OES, as well as through our members to help educate consumers about just what kind of fuel demand these generators create.”
The association says the issues with propane getting to those who needed it were strictly caused by delivery, not supply.