FORT PAYNE, Ala. (WHNT) — DeKalb County Emergency Management officials say the propane shortage is hitting the county hard, and say eventually because the shortage is so widespread it could affect more than just those who use propane gas.
“We were more affected because we have more farmers relying on propane, and a lot of areas have natural gas but unfortunately we’re so rural it will take years before natural gas will ever get to those areas,” DeKalb County Emergency Management Director Anthony Clifton says.
Clifton says bottom line, natural gas is just not that accessible to get out to the entirety of DeKalb County. “The cost profit ratio is just not there for the natural gas to run a pipe line,” Clifton says, “It’s very expensive, particularly on Lookout Mountain, Sand Mountain, with that hard rock, it’s very expensive to run a pipeline.”
Clifton says many business in DeKalb County rely on propane for their livelihood, and most of those are poultry farmers. With the severe winter weather the Tennessee Valley saw last week propane is essential in keeping those chickens alive.
Clifton says because the shortage is so widespread, it could eventually hurt a lot more people down the road than it is right now. “A lot of folks say ‘well it’s just a chicken grower issue’. It’s not. It’s going to have an affect right down the food chain. In other words we’re going to see an increase in prices sooner or later. It’s going to affect every consumer out there.”
The reason? Clifton says it’s simple supply and demand.”The price of their food is going to rise, which is going to cause a demand for other food,” Clifton says, “If you swap from chicken to beef it’s going to cause that to rise. It’s a vicious cycle.”
Clifton says right now county agencies are working with the companies the poultry farmers grow for to determine those farmers who are most critical, and work to get enough propane so they can go from day-to-day business.
Currently the county is stable, but Clifton says the long hours of working to keep it that way won’t end soon. “This is not something that’s going to end until warm weather, to be honest,” Clifton says.
DeKalb County Schools are also affected by the propane shortage. Earlier last week the school board received a letter from UPG Gas informing them they would not be getting gas from that company for at least two weeks. The EMA says they are working to ensure the schools that use gas within the system have enough to keep kids in class during the shortage.
Marshall County Economic Development President Matt Arnold says the gas shortage that is affecting the poultry farmers in DeKalb County will also directly affect the economy in other counties, including Marshall.