Upper Peninsula propane retailer: ‘Losing Line 5, you just can’t talk like that’

Enbridge’s Line 5 delivers 65% of the propane used in the U.P., and 55% of Michigan’s statewide propane needs

Don Steckman has worked in the propane retailing industry for nearly a quarter-century.

And the loss of Enbridge’s Line 5 for an extended period of time, he says, “would be a much bigger problem than people realize—much, much bigger.”

Line 5, which runs through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on its way from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Canada, transports light crude oil, light synthetic crude and natural gas liquids (NGLs).

Those NGLs are refined into propane at a facility in Rapid River, and sold across the region to local and regional distributors. Ultimately, Line 5 delivers 65 percent of the propane that heats homes and powers industry in the Upper Peninsula—and 55% of the state’s overall propane needs.

“Losing Line 5, you just can’t talk like that. It’s too important,” Steckman recently told Marquette-based The Mining Journal.

Steckman is the supervisor of Ferrellgas, the Upper Peninsula’s largest propane retailer, which has more than 10,000 customers in the U.P.

“The problem with everyone calling for the immediate shutdown (of Line 5) is that no one is providing a solution for how U.P. residents would get their propane,” State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette), tells The Mining Journal.

Last November, Enbridge entered into a formal agreement with the State of Michigan to move toward a long-term solution for the future of Line 5, as we uphold our pledge to protect the Great Lakes while safely meeting Michigan’s energy needs.

We’re currently evaluating ways to replace Line 5’s dual lines in the Straits of Mackinac, as well as additional inspection technologies and safety measures in the Straits, among seven key actions that are part of this agreement.

Steckman tells The Mining Journal that as many as 3,600 tractor-trailer rigs, each with a capacity of 9,000 gallons, would need to make trips into the Upper Peninsula each year, hauling propane, to replace Line 5’s annual delivery totals.

“It’s not feasible to shut that line down,” says David Naser, owner of Upper Peninsula-based Naser Propane. “There’s not that many trucks—period.”

The full article is posted on The Mining Journal’s website, as is a sidebar article with reactions from various propane retailers in the Upper Peninsula.