Thursday, July 18, 2024

Voters Greet Midterms With Cold Winter Worries Dancing in Their Heads

In the New England and other Northeastern areas, voters may be facing some wrenching choices in the near future — not between red and blue issues and not even Republican or Democrat candidates, but between buying heating oil and pretty much anything else, including vehicle fuel, medications and even food.

Sam Livieri, president of Connecticut-based Apple Oil, told Fox News late last month the country could suffer a “perfect storm” of winter misery unless more is done to replenish heating oil supplies. He called on federal and state leaders to bolster supplies while the weather is still relatively mild.

Livieri explained prices are roughly 40 percent higher than they were in 2021 and are expected to shoot skyward as demand peaks during the cold winter

In fact, Northeast states, where residents are already stunned at how high heating oil prices have already gotten, are now reportedly also rationing the amounts of oil people can buy.

Late October data from the United States Energy Information Administration showed the average price for a gallon of “No. 2” residential heating oil rose from $4.62 to $5.33 in the one week, a 15% increase — reaching the highest price ever since the EIA started tracking pricing data in 1990. Heating oil is more than only passed the $5 a gallon mark one other time before in March.

“There’s no heating oil,” Livieri said during his Fox appearance. “Our supplies are low, and we have high prices.”

Kara Hay, CEO of Penquis, a Bangor, Maine nonprofit devoted to fighting hunger, told Fox News the high heating oil prices, on top of general inflation, has left residents in her state worrying even more they won’t be able to heat their homes over the next hew months.

“We always hear from our struggling neighbors, friends and family members about winter and how hard it is, but we’ve not heard concern like we are hearing this year,” said Hay. “And what we’re hearing is ‘We don’t know how we’re going to make it.'”

Livieri said the high oil costs are “detrimental,” for everyone, but especially elderly and people on fixed incomes. He estimated it would cost more than $1,100 to fill a 275-gallon oil tank.

Livieri said he’s been approached by “a lot of people” asking for “short fills,” just enough oil to keep them warm until their next paycheck.

Livieri summed up his Fox News comments with a dire warning.

“We don’t want anyone to go without heat,” he said, but in January, “unless we get some replenishment of supply, we’re looking at a cold month.”

The EIA is predicting the average heating oil consumer will likely pay 28 percent more this year than they did in 2021. During the fall of 2020, the average price on a gallon of residential heating oil was $2.13, which means the cost has more than doubled in the last two years.

As of Oct. 31, the average U.S. price of a gallon of heating oil was $5.83.

Here’s a regional breakdown of the price of a gallon of residential heating oil, as of Oct. 31 from EIA: New England, $5.80; Central Atlantic, $5.95; Lower Atlantic, $5.21; and Midwest, $5.20.