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Low Sulfur Heating Oil Required In VT: More Expensive, Efficient

It's a new law you may have never heard about, but it could affect your wallet come winter.
MONTPELIER, Vt. -

It's a new law you may have never heard about, but it could affect your wallet come winter.

Heating oil dealers will be required to use low-sulfur oil. Peter Jackson already does.

"It's a lot better for the customers and the environment,” said Jackson.

It's also more expensive. His heating supply company, Jackman's Inc., spends a few more cents a gallon on his ultra-low sulfur heating oil. Jackson says he does pass that cost onto the consumer.

“You sell it all in your pre-buying, price-protected programs. You just tell everybody 'We're going to give you a B-5 blend bio,” said Jackson.

What Jackson already practices will be going into effect statewide in Vermont.

In an effort to move toward cleaner fuel, Gov. Peter Shumlin  passed the Clean & Green Energy Act in 2011. It goes into effect on July 1st. All dealers selling in Vermont will be required to use low-sulfur oil.

The sulfur content in regular heating oil is 2,000 parts per million. That needs to be reduced to 500ppm on July 1st and all the way down to 15ppm in 2018.

Refineries will be replacing the sulfur with biodiesel creating a cleaner, greener oil that costs more money.

Initially, these higher costs will be passed on to the consumers but experts say, the higher efficiency could lead to long-term cost savings.

Sulfur causes buildup in your heating equipment.

“We have to take a wire brush and scrub this stuff out of the heat exchangers,” explained Bob Hedden, an oilheat consultant and educator. “The boiler furnace isn't as efficient as it could be so the efficiency degrades through the year and you burn more and more oil."

The new oil mixture could mean customers have to buy less of it and it's better for the environment.

“As we reduce the sulfur, there will be less haze, there will be less particulate matter and the benefit for the consumers is that their equipment will run more efficiently,” said Matt Cota, Executive Director of Vermont Fuel Dealers Association.

More than half of Vermonters use heating oil.

Vermont isn't the only New England state to pass these low sulfur laws. Maine and Massachusetts are also transitioning to low sulfur heating oil.


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