Plan, but don’t panic about heating oil prices, officials say

Plan, but don’t panic about heating oil prices, officials say
Plan, but don’t panic about heating oil prices, officials say

Hunter Leveille, of Enfield, New Hampshire, returns the propane line to his truck after filling a homeowner’s tanks on the Quechee-West Hartford Road in Hartford in February 2021. File photo by Geoff Hansen/Valley News

Vermont is more insulated than some other northeastern states from the effects of potential heating oil shortages, officials say.

The US Department of Energy warns that due to a number of factors, including the war in Ukraine, supplies of diesel and fuel oil are significantly below normal – 63% below the five-year average in New -England, reported the Associated Press. this week.

But Vermont is “slightly less dependent than other Northeastern states on regional supplies of the most in-demand fuels” — diesel fuel, fuel oil and natural gas, according to June Tierney, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service. .

Fuel oil accounts for about a third of Vermont’s thermal fuel sources, she said. The other two-thirds come from biomass, electricity and natural gas.

“This breakdown of fuel sources somewhat insulates Vermont from issues in the heating industry,” she said in an email.

Additionally, ISO New England, which operates the regional power grid and is responsible for reliability, released a forecast for a mild to moderate winter, which “should help keep consumption to a manageable level that supply can reach.” , said Tierney.

Parts of New England use heating fuel from the Gulf Coast, an area that could be challenged by what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts will be an active hurricane season. This would put additional pressure on the already limited supply.

Much of Vermont’s supply comes from Canada, which represents another level of security. However, if other states experience supply disruptions from the Gulf Coast and also need to source heating oil from Canada, prices for Vermonters could rise.

“It’s reasonable to expect high prices based on international events, market dynamics and variation in weather patterns,” Tierney said.

During his weekly press briefing, Governor Phil Scott said he recently met with other New England governors on the issue and that they planned to meet with members of the Biden administration to ask for ugly. Although he expressed concern that pressure from other states could cause prices to rise in Vermont, he also said the state’s supply was relatively secure.

Northeastern states are “all working together to ensure adequate supply,” Tierney said. “States have been in contact with the DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) to explore options available in the short and long term.”

No supply issues have been identified with propane, which heats about 40,000 homes, mostly in rural areas, according to Matt Cota, executive director of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association. Another 40,000 households use propane as a secondary heating source or as a cooking fuel.

Cota said he would be more worried if the fuel oil shortage happened closer to winter, but so far away he is less worried.

“Planning is prudent, panic is not,” he said.

The prospect of severe storms and the question of when is “to be determined”, he said, “which is reason enough for the Department of Energy to say, ‘Hey, I’m just pointing out that you’re going to have need more oil in those tanks if the worst of the worst happens.

“I think they’re absolutely right,” Cota said. “It’s just, it’s the worst-case scenario of all the worst-case scenarios.”

Diesel and fuel oil, which are distillates made from crude oil, have been in short supply since April, Cota said. Diesel fuel produced in the United States is increasingly exported to Europe for fuel and power generation, he said.

European nations have cut fuel from Russia, he said, “and since distillate fuel is one of their big projects, (Europe) is increasingly dependent on exports from the United States” .

The good news, Cota said, is that the cost of distillate fuels is coming down. The supply chain is catching up with demand in Europe and consumers may be less inclined to stock up as prices fall.

Cota recommends that Vermonters do their due diligence in planning for cold weather — having tanks inspected early and talking to local fuel dealers about winter plans. When winter comes, fuel dealers are usually sold out, Cota said.

Vermonters eligible for income-based programs can apply for fuel assistance benefits through LIHEAP, utility energy assistance programs through Green Mountain Power and Vermont Gas, and home weatherization services.

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. plan but panic not about prices fuel oil say the responsible

. Plan dont panic heating oil prices officials

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