NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY - The snow is gone and warmer weather is making its way to Eastern North Carolina, but many people are paying the price.
Propane prices are on the rise in our area, and people are concerned they'll be left in the cold.
"I just don't understand why it keeps going up. All you can do is pay it and survive," Marie Wingate said.
Wingate said she has been using AmeriGas to heat her home for more than 25 years.
"The bill came and it was $428, which is substantially higher than normal," she said.
Wingate said after opening her bill to see the hefty charge, she was speechless. She told NewsChannel 12 this time last year she was paying at least $100 less.
"You think how long it takes to earn $428 and it's just like whip it out, like nothing to it. But it is, that's a lot of money," she explained.
Wingate said she called her propane gas company to get answers.
"I asked why it's so much and she said because the people out west were suffering so much from the cold winter, prices were reflecting with us," she explained.
Experts said due to unusually cold weather this winter, southern states have seen a higher demand for propane gas, resulting in shortages and escalating prices.
Deans Gas In Beaufort said right now their prices are the highest they've ever been due to the shortage at $3.79 a gallon.
Mallard Oil and Gas Company in New Bern said a price for a gallon of propane from them is $3.99.
AmeriGas in New Bern said over the past couple of weeks their prices have dramatically risen, costing $4.50 a gallon.
Hicks Propane in Vanceboro said their advice is to burn as little as possible because due to the shortage they are having to charge $4.02 a gallon.
We tried contacting Jenkins Propane several times to get their price, but they never returned our calls.
Wingate said with one more month of winter left, she's worried prices may continue to rise.
"We can't fight it. There's nothing we can do but pay it," she said.
Propane prices are not regulated by the State Public Service Commission so companies can make their own prices. Local companies told NewsChannel 12 their prices differ, depending on if they're supplying propane heat for a business or a home.