Vermont Business Magazine Vermont's Congressional Delegation recently secured $18.9 million dollars in federal funding for the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program. These funds will help 20,000 Vermont households keep warm this winter. Low-income households across Vermont can expect to receive an average of $879 to assist with winter heating costs.
On Monday, Congressman Peter Welch will participate in a ride along with a heating fuel truck and deliver fuel to the Stone Family in Rutland. This will highlight federal funding for the Low Income Energy Home Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Split the Ticket Fund, and Vermont’s new Fuel Oil Tank Regulations.
- When: Monday, November 20 at 1:30 pm
- Where: The Stone Family Home, 2 Nicole Place, Rutland
- Who: Congressman Peter Welch, Henry Stone, Matt Cota (Vermont Fuel) and Mary-Rachel Keyser (Keyser Energy)
Nearly 20,000 Vermont households will receive written notice on Monday (Nov. 20) that they have qualified for fuel assistance. There are those that don’t always qualify for assistance but still need help. This is the case with the Stone family in Rutland.
Henry Stone will receive a Split the Ticket donation from Keyser Energy. Henry is in the National Guard and a bus driver for Miller River School system. His wife of 34 years is a survivor of Breast Cancer and now wheelchair bound. The donation of heating fuel is made possible thanks to Split the Ticket Fund, a non-profit 501c-3 that collects donations from the community and matches with donations of heating oil, kerosene and propane from Vermont heating fuel companies. The fund provides a safety net for those Vermonters that don’t typically fall under the Fuel Assistance safety net. More information here: vermontfuel.com/split.
This event will also highlight the new tank regulations that impact more than 120,000 Vermont families that depend on oilheat and kerosene to stay warm. New regulations (more at vermontfuel.com/tank) require tanks to be inspected and, in some cases, repaired or replaced. Details on this regulation and how homeowners and fuel suppliers are responding to these regulations this winter will be discussed in detail.
As the temperatures drop, many Vermonters are filling their heating tanks. For some households, it may be the first time they have filled their tanks since the revised Act 76 aboveground storage tank (AST) rules went into effect on August 15, 2017. The revised rules require inspections of fuel tanks by August 15, 2020 and offer steps homeowners can take if their tank fails inspection.
In 2016, the Vermont General Assembly adopted Act No. 76, which required the Agency of Natural Resources to adopt rules to establish a mandatory inspection program for aboveground storage tanks. This program defines the inspection criteria and requirements for tagging tanks upon inspection failure, and offers ways to address noncompliant tanks. The rules were originally adopted to prevent fuel spills like those seen during Tropical Storm Irene, when thousands of gallons of fuel from over 100 tanks spilled into Vermont's waterways and contaminated numerous businesses and homes.
While the average cost for tank repairs is $400, the average cost of clean-up for a tank spill is $16,000. With an average of 75 spills each year, Vermonters end up paying more than $1 million dollars annually in clean-up costs. The revised rules which require an inspection every three years will reduce costly clean-ups by identifying tanks that are at risk of leaking or tipping over before a spill occurs.
Under the revised rules, tank inspections must be performed at the following times:
(1) immediately after a new tank installation,
(2) immediately after initial delivery of fuel to a new tank system,
(3) prior to the initial delivery of fuel when the tank owner switches fuel carriers,
(4) if not otherwise required by any of the above circumstances, the tank system shall be inspected once every three years; and
(5) upon removal of a tank system.
If a tank does not meet inspection requirements, indicating that the tank has failed or is likely to fail, the tank will be 'red-tagged'. Because of the risk of a spill, the tank cannot be filled by a fuel truck until the tank is repaired or replaced. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association (VFDA) are working together to ensure every Vermonter has access to heating fuel and a safe fuel tank. DEC and VFDA are encouraging fuel dealers to conduct routine inspections during the spring and summer when there is ample time to secure financial assistance and make repairs
If dangerous tanks are encountered in the winter months and need to be 'red-tagged', fuel companies can work with homeowners to install a temporary tank until the tank is replaced or repaired. A red-tagged tank can also be filled by hand with small amounts of fuel until the dangerous tank can be repaired or replaced. To review DEC guidance on hand-filling to ensure this process is done safely, visit dec.vermont.gov/waste-management/storage-tanks/tank-removal-financial-assistance.
DCF runs the Weatherization Program and has allocated $100,000 to respond to "heating emergency" situations that may result from red-tagged tanks this winter, and has an additional $750,000 available for other types of heating emergencies. DEC manages the Petroleum Cleanup Fund financial assistance program. This fund helps 300 Vermonters upgrade or replace their tanks every year.
For homeowners seeking financial assistance to help with the cost of fixing or replacing a red-tagged tank, here are four places to start:
1. The Vermont Petroleum Cleanup Fund offers financial assistance to low-income residential tank owners for the removal, replacement and upgrade of an aboveground fuel oil storage tank. Go to http://dec.vermont.gov/waste-management/storage-tanks/tank-removal-finan... or call (802) 828-1138 for more information.
2. The Emergency Furnace Repair and Replacement Program operated by the Office of Economic Opportunity can assist with financing the repair or replacement of a red tagged tank. Contact your local Community Action Agency for more information.
3. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a Rural Economic Development loan and grant program for low income households. Go to www.rd.usda.gov for more information.
4. VGreen Energy Improvement Loan offered by VSECU is a low-income loan for tank replacements. Go to www.vsecu.org or call 1-800-371-5162 for more information
Beyond the winter season, DEC, DCF, and VFDA will continue to work with homeowners to provide financial assistance to repair or replace unsafe fuel tanks, and to reduce the cost of avoidable fuel spills for all Vermonters.
Source: Agency of Natural Resources November 16, 2017 dec.vermont.gov/waste-management/storage-tanks/tank-removal-financial-assistance