Coal in Short Supply?

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After a mild few weeks the freezing winter weather the past few days has some people finally thinking heat.

Some coal companies in Schuylkill County have been busy with deliveries lately, but said market wide there are some shortages. One coal company owner said the price of coal is up this year compared to last year.

With an increase in demand for coal another owner said he has had to turn away new customers to keep up with his current business.

Temperatures in the teens and 20s have led to a busy few days for Sheldon Croll, owner of Croll's Coal and Oil in Schuylkill County.

He is making around a dozen coal deliveries a day to homes like Joshua Schrepple's in Tamaqua.

"It was 20 some degrees last night, negative wind chill, it was just time to load up, get ready for the year," Schrepple said.

Coal company owners said demand increases this time of year.

One owner said he is working five days a week to supply coal, but he has had to turn away new business to keep up the supply for his current customers.

"Some places are having a hard time with rice coal. It`s a big mover," Croll said. He added the price of coal is also higher, ranging from $200 to $210 a ton, delivered. "It`s up a little bit compared to last year, but fuel prices for the coal companies increased their expenses dramatically, so it has to get passed on,.

Research shows a ton of coal produces about the same amount of heat as 180 gallons of oil at a fraction of the cost, a relief for Schrepple and his wallet.

"For the entire winter, I spend about, I`d say, about $600 on coal, where winter with oil, you could spend up to $2,000 easily," Schrepple said. "I have (done both). The last house we were in was oil and it kind of bankrupted us during the winter."

Schrepple added with many distributors in the coal region he didn't have trouble getting a delivery, and Croll believes companies will be able to catch up with production.

"So I'd say, coming up, everybody`s going to be fine down the road here," Croll said.

Another coal business owner in Mahanoy City said he thinks the economy has also played a roll in the current supply. People may not have been able to afford to stock up earlier so they wait until the absolutely have to get their coal.

With temperatures going back up this weekend people may be able to put off the purchase for a little while longer.