- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Not everyone is benefiting from the drop in home heating oil prices.

Customers who entered into pre-buy contracts with fuel dealers this summer locked in prices for the winter heating season that are higher than they are now.

The statewide average retail price for fuel oil was $3.73 in June and $3.70 in July. The price has since dropped to about $2.90 this week.

Matt Cota, executive director of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, said state law requires dealers to buy the oil at the market price when a customer signs a pre-season contract so the dealer can’t take advantage of price declines afterward.

“And it really reinforces the fact that when you lock in a price, you know the dealer and the consumer are in it together,” Cota told Vermont Public Radio.

Most homeowners did not lock in prices, said Cota.

But many schools signed fuel contracts this past summer, said Norm Etkind, energy director for the Vermont Superintendents Association.

“Going forward, of course some schools will get some savings by buying oil at a lower price, but I don’t think many schools are figuring that these lower prices will last. I don’t think that it is going to greatly impact their budgeting,” he said.

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