The highest share of households that use propane as a primary winter heating fuel is in the Midwest. Propane use for space heating is also significant in the Northeast. EIA expects households heating primarily with propane to spend less this winter, but the projected decrease varies across regions. EIA expects that households heating with propane in the Midwest will spend an average of $767 (34%) less this winter than last winter, reflecting prices that are about 24% lower and consumption that is 13%. Households in the Northeast are expected to spend an average of $340 (13%) less this winter, with average prices that are about 5% lower and consumption that is 9% lower than last winter. Last year, a particularly large and wet corn crop in the fall increased demand for propane used in crop drying, reducing inventories in the Midwest. Severely cold temperatures followed the corn harvest and also contributed to high propane prices in the Midwest. As of September 26, propane inventories in the Midwest were 28.0 million barrels, slightly above the five-year average and 3.7 million barrels higher than at the same time last year.
Despite higher inventories, the outlook for propane is uncertain. The amount of propane used to process the record corn crop expected this fall will depend on both the weather and commodity prices. Following the harvest, winter temperature outcomes will directly drive the amount of propane used for space heating. Changes in propane supply infrastructure since last winter are another source of uncertainty. The Cochin Pipeline, which previously delivered propane from Canada into the Midwest, was reversed in early 2014. While this reversal will limit the ability to deliver propane into the region, higher propane production from gas plants in the Midwest and new and expanded rail terminals should help to supply propane to the region this winter.