SEPTEMBER 17, 2009 ISSUE

Heating Fuel Oil and Kerosene Prices Significantly Lower Than Last September

“What we are seeing are prices are down for propane and other heating fuels anywhere from 30 to 40 percent from last year,” said Renee Whitener, director of public relations for Blue Ridge Energies, the heating fuels and propane subsidiary of Blue Ridge Electric.

“Different factors affect the market,” she continued, naming the severity of the weather and supply and demand as important dynamics.

“Supply concerns have not been an issue this year,” Whitener said. ”The demand has been lower over the past year from a national perspective.”

Prices have also been greatly affected by the price of crude oil, which was more than $100 a barrel last September, but has been hovering in the upper $60s to lower $70s range this September, Whitener said.

“We’re very pleased customers are going to experience significant savings this September if they’re buying propane or heating fuel.”

Appalachian Energy, located at 190 Poplar Grove Road in Boone, reported a fuel oil price of $2.29.9 per gallon and a K-1 price of $2.45.9 per gallon on Tuesday, September 15. At this time last year, Appalachian Energy reported a fuel oil price of $4.09.9 per gallon and a K-1 price of $4.59.9 per gallon. To order, call 828-262-3637.

“It’s cheaper than it was last year, almost $2 a gallon cheaper,” said Charles Rogers, location manager for Appalachian Energy.

Colvard Oil Company, located at 317 South Jefferson Avenue in West Jefferson, reported a fuel oil price of $2.39.9 per gallon and a K-1 price of $2.79.9 per gallon on Tuesday, September 15. To order, call 828-264-3051 or 828-898-7646.

Mountain Oil, located at 585 East King Street, reported a fuel oil price of $2.29.9 and a K-1 price of $2.45.9 per gallon, also on Tuesday. To order, call 828-264-8516.

Further Savings Options
Several options might be available for those hoping to save a little more this year on heating costs.

Blue Ridge Energies
Blue Ridge Energies offers savings programs that include senior citizens, budget billing and refer-a-friend.

If customers are at least 65 years old, they are eligible to receive a special price on propane and heating fuels. Call the local Blue Ridge Energies office to enroll and receive the discounted price each time fuel is delivered.

A customer on budget billing qualifies for a special price and has the benefit of paying the same amount for their energy 11 out of the 12 months of the year. In the 12th month, Blue Ridge Energies “evens up” the customer’s account with either a credit to the account or a bill for the remaining balance. This helps equalize what a customer pays for fuel throughout most of the year.

Blue Ridge Energies customers who refer a friend can receive a $50 account credit when the referral becomes a “keep full” customer with a minimum tank size of 250 gallons (or two 420-pound cylinders). As the new customer receives their first tank fill, the referring friend receives a $50 Blue Ridge Energies account credit.

Additionally, Blue Ridge Energies customer service representatives have information on which agencies can help individuals who are in a crisis situation and need a helping hand and can help direct people to sources where funds are available for bill assistance.

Hospitality House
The Hospitality House’s WeCAN (Watauga Crisis Assistance Network) program responds to those in crisis situations, stepping in to prevent eviction, assist the homeless with permanent housing solutions, prevent the cut-off of utility services, assist with heating needs and more. WeCAN will additionally provides guidance in overcoming recurring situations.

For more information, click to www.hospitalityhouseofboone.org, email wecan@hospitalityhouseofboone.org or call Shivonne Quintero 828-264-1237.

Hunger and Health Coalition
The Hunger and Health Coalition’s Helping Hands Wood Lot provides firewood at no cost to those in need. It also offers medicine and food assistance programs, which would allow people to shift more of their resources to paying for fuel oil if they had to choose between fuel oil and groceries, said Executive Director Compton Fortuna.

For more information on the program, call 828-262-1628. To apply for any of the programs, visit the office, located at 141 Health Center Drive in Boone Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army’s social services office offers numerous services to those in Avery and Watauga counties who are struggling financially. Upon application and determination of need, the Salvation Army will assist with rent, fuel oil, kerosene, food, clothing, electrical, water, natural gas, medical expenses, transportation, Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as provide nursing home ministries.
For more information, call the Salvation Army at 828-963-4184.

WAMY Community Action
WAMY (Watauga, Avery, Mitchell and Yancey) Community Action operates Weatherization Assistance and Heating Appliance Repair and Replacement programs, which help low-income families reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Weatherization measures include air sealing, caulking and weather-stripping, attic and floor insulation, heating and air conditioning system testing, water heater and pipe installation and more. Eligibility is based on family size and income as published in the federal register.

For more information or to request an application, all 828-264-2421, click to www.wamycommunityaction.org, or email Weatherization Director Andy Bryant at wamywap@charter.net.