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Today in Energy

October 19, 2011

State heating oil and propane program season begins

graph of State heating oil and propane program season begins, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly Heating Oil and Propane Prices (October-March).
Note: The data above were collected from the following States: Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Download CSV Data: Residential Heating Oil Prices, Residential Propane Prices

During the heating season, which runs from October through March, heating oil and propane prices tend to rise in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the country. One exception was during the 2008-2009 season, when crude oil prices collapsed. Starting every October, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides pricing information through the State Heating Oil and Propane Program (SHOPP), a weekly joint data collection effort between EIA and States in the Northeast and Midwest for the winter season. This weekly survey collects residential prices for heating oil and propane directly from retailers within each State.

Policymakers and consumers use SHOPP data to help decision-making in the event of a heating fuel supply disruption or an unusually cold winter. Unlike natural gas and electricity, which are provided through utility companies, heating oil and propane are sold by independent dealers. Both dealers and their customers are subject to considerable supply and price uncertainty. SHOPP enables better communication regarding market developments between fuel providers and State governments.

At present, SHOPP data are collected for 22 States for heating oil and 24 States for propane. The survey focuses only on States that consume a significant amount of these fuels for their heating needs. According to EIA's 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (see graph below), relative to the United States as a whole, New England relies very heavily on heating oil for space heating (41.8% of homes use heating oil as their primary energy source for space heating). On the other hand, a significant share of homes in the Midwest (8.1%) use propane as their primary energy source for space heating.

graph of homes using heating oil and propane for space heating, 2009, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS).
Download CSV Data

Every Monday during the heating season, data are collected by telephone from a statistically selected sample of 515 heating oil dealers and 645 propane dealers. Retail and wholesale prices of heating oil and propane are tabulated and published every Wednesday in EIA's Heating Oil and Propane Update.