Attorney General reminds Vermonters about propane law

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Attorney General reminds Vermonters about propane law

Fri, 12/23/2016 - 4:24am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The Attorney General’s Office has issued a summary of propane rights and responsibilities. “Vermont has a robust set of propane rules, both to protect consumers and to promote fair competition among propane dealers. With another heating season upon us, we want to remind consumers of their rights and what to expect from a propane dealer,” said Attorney General Bill Sorrell.

For example, there are numerous protections against unfair or hidden fees. Consumers may not be charged: (i) a minimum usage fee; (ii) a fee for fuel not actually delivered; or (iii) any fee related to termination of service if a tank has been on the premises for more than 12 months. Consumers may not be held to a minimum annual purchase of fuel, except as part of a guaranteed price plan (*tank rental fees are allowed). Additionally, all fees must be clearly disclosed in writing using a Fee Disclosure Form. However, Vermont does not regulate the price-per-gallon of heating fuel, which is variable and set by the dealer.

Other protections include strict timeframes for terminating service. Once a consumer requests termination, propane dealers must generally remove propane storage tanks within 20 days, and issue refund checks for unused propane within another 20 days. If these timeframes are not met, penalties accrue daily and are owed directly to the consumer.

The Attorney General’s Office actively enforces these consumer protections. Since 2003, the Attorney General’s Office has entered into 15 settlements with Vermont propane dealers (10 settlements since 2012), totaling $2.38 million dollars (approximately $960,000 in restitution to over 3,600 consumers; $690,000 paid to LIHEAP; $730,000 in payments to the State of Vermont). You can view those settlement documents here, along with links to all of Vermont’s propane laws and guidance.

Consumers or propane dealers who have questions may contact the Attorney General’s Office, by phone: (802) 828-5507, by email at AGO.consumerinfo@vermont.gov (please put “propane” in subject line) or by mail to: Consumer Assistance Program - Propane, 109 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05609-1001. Consumers or businesses who wish to file a complaint against a propane seller are encouraged to fill out the online complaint form.

Vermont AG: Dec 22, 2016