News Story

Closing Pipeline Means Higher Heating Costs For Yoopers

Dueling cost estimates differ only on how much more

Policymakers in Lansing are discussing the possibility of closing two oil and two pipelines that run along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. As they do, Upper Peninsula residents who rely on propane to heat their homes have reason to be concerned about the impact on their heating bills.

The Upper Peninsula accounts for only a small portion of the state’s overall propane consumption. But data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that 18 percent of U.P. households — about 22,050 (2016 data) of the 123,995 households there (2017 data) — use bottled, tank, or liquefied petroleum gas as their primary heating source.

Studies backed by both the National Wildlife Federation and the state of Michigan (under the Snyder administration) agree that shutting down the Enbridge Line 5 would raise propane prices for Upper Peninsula residents. They disagree on how much.

In a 2018 study prepared by a consultant for the National Wildlife Federation, it was estimated that U.P. propane prices would increase 11 cents per gallon, with consumers paying an additional 5 cents per gallon. Therefore, a resident who used an average of 1,200 gallons of propane a year would have to pay an additional $60 per year for propane.

A 2017 study, prepared by a different consulting firm for the state of Michigan, foresaw greater price increases. This study estimated that a full shutdown of Line 5 would increase propane prices by 10 to 35 cents per gallon, leading to the average consumer in the Upper Peninsula paying $120 to $420 more each year to heat their home.

This analysis also found that even if Line 5 did continue to operate, but at half its current capacity, propane prices in the U.P. would increase by 5 cents per gallon.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.