N.H.’s propane supply looking stronger

New Hampshire’s propane supply could return to normal within a week thanks to a tentative agreement reached between Canada’s United Transportation Union and the Canadian National Railroad.

News of the pending agreement came the same day a shipment of propane was delivered in Providence, R.I., via tanker. The next New Hampshire delivery is expected to arrive at Newington’s Sea-3 terminal during the first week of March.

“Things are looking up,” said Judy Taylor, managing director of the Propane Gas Association of New England. “If this weather stays as warm as it’s been we should do well.”

Canadian rail workers have been on strike since Feb. 10. A formal vote on the tentative agreement is expected to take place March 26.

Maine depends on the railroad to bring in 60 percent of its propane and has been hit hardest by the Canadian rail strike. The impact in New Hampshire, however, has been less severe. According to Taylor, a small percentage of the state’s propane supply is delivered through the Canadian rail system, with most trucked in or arriving via ship to Newington.

An estimated 63,000 New Hampshire homes — roughly 11 percent — are heated with propane, according to the 2005 American Community Survey. A number of fast food restaurants, box stores and other retail businesses also use propane.

The 400 million gallons of propane used throughout New England each year arrives from four different sources — two seaports, a pipeline in Selkirk, N.Y., and rail. – TRACIE STONE

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