Vermont Lawmakers Hear from Propane Dealers on Proposed Regs

The Vermont state house in Montpelier, topped by Ceres, Roman goddess of agriculture and grain. (image: Jassy-50 via flickr.com)

Yesterday, several Vermont propane dealers visited the state house to discuss recent proposals to regulate the industry, with particular regard for minimum use fees and tank rentals. The long-winded hearing was designed, as the chairman of the committee that hosted it said, to balance business owner’s interests with customer concerns, according to the Burlington Free Press. And the day included explanations on billing practices, some light sniping, and at least one mea culpa for a $974 propane bill.

In February, several Vermont lawmakers pitched legislation to limit what can go on a propane bill following a wave of complaints from customers. The proposed regulations would prohibit minimum use fees and termination fees for tanks installed for more than a year. Other measures would require that dealers itemize equipment charges on the propane bill, and timely reimbursement for customers who change providers.

Read the Free Press story here.

In December, New Mexico tightened its control on the propane trade, ending a minimum order requirement of 100 gallons. And in February, a Texas lawmaker introduced a bill that would limit when dealers could disconnect a customer’s service. Meantime, the National Propane Gas Association firmly opposes state controls on dealers, arguing that propane is not a public utility and should not be regulated like one.

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