Unlike many of us who foolishly spend more time comparing gasoline prices than heating oil prices (which can vary by 30 percent or more), Tony Lynch of Lyme is being proactive.
He asked me recently what I thought about joining an oil coop.
“With the heating season coming and heating oil prices stuck at stubbornly high prices relative to the drop in crude oil prices, I am considering joining Pinergy or Citizen’s Oil Coop and was wondering if you have had any complaints about them since you last updated your article on Jan 30, 2010,” he wrote me.
Great question Tony. I did an update with both the state Consumer Protection Department and with the Better Business Bureau. Consumer protection had no complaints against either. The Better Business Bureau (which one has to always take with a grain of salt if the business is a dues paying member), had no complaints against Citizen’s Oil but I was unable to find a listing on BBB.org for Pinergy.
I also talked with Mark Hutson, president of the West Hartford based Citizen’s Oil Coop which has been in business for 25 years. It was launched in 1981 by the Connecticut Citizen Action group as a way to offer its “members quality, full-service heating oil at a fair price.”
Now let me give you a warning, Citizen’s oil is NOT the cheapest. If you want the least expensive oil, you have to shop around and pay on delivery and hire your own service company. But be careful, it’s a cutthroat business, and some companies give you a discount on the first delivery and then fleece you after that.
However, Hutson insists that his customers pay 25 to 30 cents less per gallon that the average state-wide price for full-service oil. The coop only provides oil through full-service companies.
The coop serves all 169 towns in Connecticut through a dozen heating oil companies. It has about 3,500 members. It costs $25 to join, $15 if you are 55 or older. There is an initial $10 application fee.
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