State Heating Fuel Prices Remain Stable another Week

February 18, 2014

Augusta, Maine – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Monday, February 17, 2014, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $3.87 per gallon, down one cent from last week. The average statewide price for kerosene is the same as last week, at $4.30 per gallon. This week’s average statewide price for propane (for heating customers) increased by one cent, to $3.52 per gallon. Heating fuel prices have risen 34 cents (heating oil), 36 cents (k-1), and 87 cents (propane) per gallon since the heating season began in October. Last year at this time, heating oil averaged $3.84 per gallon; kerosene, $4.31, and propane, $2.76.

Prices remain stable for yet another week, with little movement from propane and kerosene prices and another week of downward movement from heating oil prices. This could be related to the increase in crude oil stocks, which, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), are at their highest levels since last December. Heating oil and propane stocks still remain below last year’s levels, but the gap is closing, most noticeably with propane. According to the EIA, the difference between this year and last year’s propane stocks in New England is a mere 39,000 barrels. A month ago, that gap was 540,000 barrels. There is a possibility for New England’s propane stocks to report at levels above 2012-2013 as soon as this week, which has not occurred once this entire heating season. .

This information brings little comfort to Mainers who primarily use propane to heat their homes, given the difference in propane prices between this year and last. However, it should be noted that even with comparitively low supply levels all season, Maine has averaged among the lowest heating oil and propane prices in New England. As shown by the chart below, Maine propane prices have been the lowest in New England in 2014, and heating oil prices have been the lowest in the region for the past three weeks.

New England Heating Oil Prices by State (dollars per gallon)
State 01/06/14 01/13/14 01/20/14 01/27/14 02/03/14 02/10/14
Connecticut 4.183 4.175 4.218 4.317 4.352 4.344
Massachusetts 4.046 4.043 4.077 4.202 4.219 4.210
New Hampshire 3.896 3.894 3.906 3.986 4.044 3.995
Rhode Island 4.077 4.062 4.103 4.197 4.268 4.242
Vermont 3.788 3.758 3.771 3.894 3.971 3.950
Maine 3.835 3.841 3.829 3.892 3.934 3.918

Source: EIA

New England Propane Prices by State (dollars per gallon)
State 01/06/14 01/13/14 01/20/14 01/27/14 02/03/14 02/10/14
Connecticut 3.354 3.397 3.528 3.653 3.792 3.918
Massachusetts 3.477 3.536 3.552 3.695 3.816 3.794
New Hampshire 3.467 3.501 3.539 3.672 3.706 3.728
Rhode Island 3.990 4.016 4.037 4.207 4.399 4.456
Vermont 3.753 3.776 3.798 4.037 4.210 4.134
Maine 3.181 3.273 3.302 3.469 3.558 3.607

Source: EIA

Note: Differences between the EIA reported prices and the GEO reported prices exist in both charts because the EIA conducts only a partial survey of state suppliers, while the GEO surveys all suppliers statewide.

Using this week’s average heating oil price ($3.87) and converting to a common heating unit value (million Btu), the price of fuel oil is $27.90. This compares with an equivalent heating unit value for natural gas of $15.50 (at $1.55/therm); propane, $38.54 (at $3.52/gallon); kerosene $31.85 (at $4.30/gallon); wood pellets, $14.67 (at $242/ton); cord wood, $11.36 (at $250/cord) and electricity, $43.96 (at 15 cents per kwh). These fuel-only prices do not take into account the type of heating system, nor its efficiency. For example, the electricity cost is for traditional baseboard heat. Other electric heating technologies, such as heat pumps and electric thermal storage (ETS), may offer consumers energy savings. Cold climate heat pumps, a recent technological advancement, are much more efficient than baseboard electric heat, so total energy costs are lower than many other types of heating fuels. ETS offers savings by utilizing off-peak electric rates, available in many areas of the state.

The Energy Office has a calculator on its web site that allows consumers to obtain more detailed estimates of home heating costs, and the price impacts of various types of fuel, heating systems and heating appliances. Heating costs vary considerably from home to home. The home heating calculator can assist homeowners in finding the best heating option for their home, location, lifestyle, and budget http://www.maine.gov/energy/index.html

As of February 17, 2014


Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

3.87

3.87

3.88

3.86

3.84

3.90

High

4.30

4.30

4.09

4.03

4.00

3.97

Low

3.60

3.60

3.75

3.60

3.60

3.85

Kerosene

4.30

4.31

4.30

4.31

4.26

4.30

Propane

3.52

3.55

3.41

3.41

3.36

3.66

It is important to note that the price for heating oil is a statewide average, and that prices in a given geographic region of the state may be considerably higher or lower than this average. This week, within the Energy Office sample, the highest heating oil price ($4.30) was found in one region in the state, and the lowest heating oil price ($3.60) was recorded in three regions. Also, the statewide average price for propane is based on a use of at least 900 gallons a year. Households using propane just for cooking or hot water generally pay a higher per gallon price. The table above provides current Maine cash prices in dollars rounded to the nearest penny.

Efficiency Maine Trust links Maine homeowners and businesses with qualified, certified contractors who provide access to energy improvement options. For program details call 866-376-2463 or visit www.efficiencymaine.com.

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For Immediate Release

Contact:
Lisa Smith
(207) 624-7445
lisa.j.smith@maine.gov