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House approves regulations on prepaid oil contracts

Staff Report
March 12. 2014 1:22PM

CONCORD – The House Wednesday strongly approved a bill that would tighten the regulations on prepaid contracts for the purchase of home heating oil.

Responding to the controversy generated by the Fred Fuller Oil and Propane Co. and its oil delivery issues, the House voted 226-98 to pass House Bill 1170 to the state Senate.

The vote was 226-98. There was no floor debate.

Rep. Donna Schlachman, D-Exeter, wrote for the majority of the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee that an amended version of the bill adds four new provisions to the requirements for guaranteed price plans and prepaid contracts for home heating oil.

She wrote that it prohibits residential contracts from being offered prior to May 1 or later
than October 31 of the year in which the heating fuel season begins. It adds a new option – 75 percent of the outstanding volume in gallons that have been contracted – to the current list of options dealers must secure to cover their obligation under prepaid contracts.

The latest version of the bill requires dealers to register with the Secretary of State's Office if they will be offering prepaid contracts and to file a report on how the prepaid fuel is being secured.

The amendment also adds failure to provide timely delivery of home heating fuel as a "prohibited act" under the state's Consumer Protection Act.

The bill also creates a study committee to review propane service contracts and determine if minimum requirements are necessary.

The commerce and consumer affairs panel recommended that the bill be passed on a vote of 14-4.