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Chesapeake Utilities adds to propane expansion in Fla.

Katie Tabeling

Chesapeake Utilities Dover Headquarters | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

DOVER — Chesapeake Utilities Corporation continues to invest in the Sunshine State, adding yet another propane portfolio to its list of acquisitions.

Earlier in December, the diversified energy delivery company announced it acquired the propane operating assets of Hernando Gas, in Hernando, Fla. Founded in 2011, Hernando Gas served 260 customers, all who will continue to be serviced by Chesapeake Utilities subsidiary Florida Public Utilities. 

This acquisition, finalized with Chesapeake Utilities’ subsidiary company, Sharp Energy, will not bring on any additional employees, as the employees of Hernando Gas elected to retire once the deal was completed.

“Propane’s reliability, versatility and superior performance make it a fuel of choice for many Floridians,” Chesapeake Utilities President and CEO Jeff Householder said in a statement. “We are confident that Florida Public Utilities will provide our new propane customers with the same exceptional service that they have been accustomed to receiving.”

Chesapeake Utilities has been focusing on Florida in recent years, as it acquired Florida Public Utilities back in 2009. To date, the company has 355 employees through its subsidiaries. Florida Public Utilities owns and operates 3,030 miles of natural gas distribution mains across 21 counties in the state and serves about 87,000 customers.

Andy Hesson, vice president of Sharp Energy, noted that the acquisition brings the company closer to the Tampa market when it comes to propane. 

“Our business development team is focused on five platforms for growth designed to optimize our existing businesses, selectively expand our gas transmission and propane businesses in receptive markets and pursue investments in renewable and sustainable energy projects,” Hesson said in an email to the Delaware Business Times. “We see a long runway ahead for our traditional natural gas, propane and electric businesses.”

Propane has been a prime focus of Chesapeake Utilities in recent years, as in 2019, the company tripled its propane rail terminal capacity in the First State, preparing it to store more than 3.5 million gallons in the mid-Atlantic region.

In 2020, Sharp Energy bought out Boulden Brothers Propane, which served 5,200 residential and commercial customers and sold about 3 million gallons of propane through the tri-state region. 

By the end of that year, Sharp Energy finalized the acquisition of Western Natural Gas Company in Florida, which served 4,000 customers and sold roughly 1 million gallons of propane in four counties in northeast Florida.

In late 2021, the company acquired Diversified Energy in North Carolina, which sold 10.3 million gallons in annual propane sales that year. Non-regulated businesses, like propane, continue to add to Chesapeake Utilities earning growth and service expansion, Hesson said.  

“The acquisition of assets from both Diversified Energy Company and Davenport Energy’s Siler City propane division extended our propane operations into North and South Carolina, helping to fill in our Eastern Seaboard footprint,” he said.

Looking ahead to 2023, Hesson said the company will continue to focus on growing Florida propane operations, and will continue to look for acquisition opportunities. 

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