Early Price Projections Show Heating Oil Slightly Cheaper than Last Year
At the Penquis office in Bangor, it’s already starting to look like winter, as employees shuffle through the stack of applicants asking for help staying warm.”We’ve taken, as of today, 1,788 applications,” said Barbara Stone, the project manager for the Fuel Assistance Program.She has her work cut out for her since federal funding to LIHEAP was scaled back last year. Stone explained,”They’re used to getting $600-800 dollars when they’re only going to get $300-400 dollars, so that’s a big cut for them.”The average benefit for a family of four was $437 last year, which Stone said equalled out to about 100 gallons of oil. However, that amount could go up or down depending on heating oil prices. According to Kenneth Fletcher, the director of the Governor’s Energy Office, the early price projections aren’t looking too bleak.”What they’re forecasting is the prices, and if you believe this, might be a little lower than they were last year,” said Fletcher.But he explained there’s only a 2-3% difference at this point, and that will most likely fluctuate, which is why Mainers should proceed with some caution when buying this season.He told us, “Most analysts say that if you buy real time pricing, so to speak, at the time you need it, over the long haul you will probably be at little bit lower cost, but the problem is the variability could be significant.”It seems the only certainty is that enjoying winter in Maine comes with a cost.