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  • Proposed bill would remove barrier for Mainers to heat homes

     A measure to help save money for Mainers who have run out of oil was taken up by the Labor, Commerce, Research and Development committee today.

    The bill, LD 294, “An Act To Allow a Home Heating Oil Delivery Driver To Bleed a Home Heating Oil Burner, sponsored by Senator Bill Diamond, would allow a home heating oil delivery driver to bleed an oil burner to help restart the furnace. Under current law, only a licensed master oil technician can bleed a furnace at a cost of $100-$200.

    “This small change in removing an unnecessary restriction has the ability to go a long way in making a big difference for many Mainers,” said Senator Diamond. “No person or family should be left in the cold because of a minor technical requirement.”

    Senator Diamond proposed this legislation because he heard about the financial burden the extra cost of bleeding a furnace was for low income families, including the elderly, who run out of heating fuel and can barely afford to purchase the heating oil. All the while, the home stays cold because the furnace cannot start.

    Senator Diamond sponsored the bill after working in conjunction with local oil dealer Dana Lampron, owner of Pit Stop Fuels, who delivers fuel to those in emergency situations, in the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program. Senator Diamond is the President of the Windham community organization that helps low income homeowners with heating oil.

    Lampron makes emergency deliveries for the program at any time of the day or night to homes that run out of heating oil. Unfortunately, some homes are not able to warm up after the fuel delivery because they need to be bled.

    The bill, LD 294, “An Act To Allow a Home Heating Oil Delivery Driver To Bleed a Home Heating Oil Burner,” would remove this barrier.

    During the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee’s public hearing, Lampron called the “real horror of running out of oil” is making the delivery and then standing with the single parent or elderly homeowner and telling them “there is nothing we can do to help get the furnace started.”

    Last year, Neighbors Helping Neighbors raised over $32,000 and helped provide heating oil for 101 families.

    “This organization has already helped so many people at their most dire time and now I hope we are able to further help them by making this simple change in law,” said Senator Diamond. “Running out of heating fuel is bad enough. But then, to face further bureaucratic obstacles because your furnace cannot be started--even when fuel is delivered--is frustrating.”