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Plan ahead and buy propane early

WILLMAR — The Minnesota Corn Growers Association is urging farmers around the state to plan ahead for their propane needs this fall. Due to the reversal of the Cochin pipeline and an increase in U.S. propane exports, propane supplies in Minnesota could be stretched thin if everyone waits until the fall to buy propane.

“As best you can, address your anticipated propane needs for the fall harvest right now,” said association president Ryan Buck in a recent news release. “I know that’s difficult since we have no idea how wet this year’s crop will be, but we need to be thinking about it.”

The Cochin pipeline worked like a water spigot on a house: Propane suppliers could tap into it when they needed more and turn it back off when they were finished — it was convenient.

Kinder-Morgan, the owner of the Cochin pipeline, has reversed the pipeline and has to deliver a diluent for tar sand to Canada for the next 10 years through the Cochin pipeline.

CHS Inc. is working on expanding propane storage capacity in Glenwood to 1.3 million gallons of propane and increasing the Cold Spring track and propane storage capacity.

“People who use propane to heat their homes or dry crops need to start thinking about their purchasing habits,” Drew Combs, vice president of propane at CHS, said in an interview Thursday. “Buy propane early in the summer and save it for when you need it in the fall. For one, the buyers will save money because propane is cheaper in the summer months. Second, it actually hurts the suppliers to sell propane on an as-needed basis in the fall.”

Combs urges propane users to add more storage capacity on their properties and reminds users that propane does not have an expiration date and can be saved for whenever it is needed.

CHS also subsidizes propane purchases on 5-, 7-, and 10-year payment plans.

Minnesota politicians are working with Washington in an attempt to make propane railcars a top priority to keep the flow of propane to Minnesota stable. In the meantime, storage capacity expansion projects in the area are scheduled to be complete by Sept. 1.

The Swift County Planning Commission on June 2 approved a conditional use permit for Alliance Energy Services to repurpose the old Cochin pipeline storage facility. The $4 million dollar project will allow the storage facility near Benson to be refilled by rail. It is not known when the project will be completed.