BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Mainers are battling another snowstorm, but the real enemy this winter has been the cold. December was far colder than usual.
One oil dealer told NEWS CENTER that in terms of degree days, which is how they track temperature and heating demand, December was 25% colder than normal. The continued cold has made homeowners use more fuel to keep warm, and that may bring an unhappy surprise for many. Oil dealers say a lot of customers on pre-buy contracts or budget plans could wind up facing extra expense because of the cold. Those contracts are for specific quantities of oil or propane, based on average consumption. But the continued cold means customers may be burning through the oil and gas contracts, and could be forced to buy extra fuel to get through the season.
Jamie Py, president of the Maine Energy Marketers Association, say some companies are already sending letters to contract customers, advising them to plan for added expense. Py states specifics vary from one company to another, but customers close to using up their contracted amount of fuel can often arrange to either increase a monthly payment, or make a larger, final payment at the end of the heating season.
He says customers and companies haven't done anything wrong. It's just one more unpleasant reality of this difficult winter.