As the Ulster County-based Mid-Hudson Fuel Buying Co-op enters its seventh year, it is expecting another huge rise in membership, especially outside Ulster county. Last year saw new members in Dutchess, Orange, Greene, Sullivan, and Columbia counties and the co-op admin team expects more growth outside Ulster county this summer. “The co-op has mainly grown by word of mouth,” says founder Fay Loomis. “We have in the past made presentations to community groups, but obviously this year that was not possible, except by Zoom. But we have found that friends tell friends and neighbors tell neighbors, and the savings are so good, the word has spread quickly. We have pretty much doubled our membership each year.”
That is somewhat remarkable, since there is only one six week period per year when it is possible to join the co-op and get access to the savings. Members must renew their membership each summer, paying a non-refundable $15 fee, which pays for office and online expenses. The six members of the admin team are all unpaid independent volunteers without ties to any fuel supply company. This year they have a paid part-time admin assistant who is answering the growing number of email and telephone inquiries.
This year the co-op has negotiated for its members two options for home heating oil, a flat rate of $1.949/gallon for the season (from date of contract through May 31, 2021) or a variable rate based on the previous day’s NYMEX settlement price plus 55 cents. For example, if you bought fuel oil on June 1, 2020, based on the variable rate, you would have paid $1.515/gallon. This compares to the average price for the region, as computed by NYSERDA (NYS Energy Research & Development Authority) of $2.074/gallon.
Propane users also get a good deal, typically small users pay a large premium compared to those who use propane for heating the house. Co-op members who use over 400 gallons in the season will pay $1.44/gallon and the smaller users will pay $1.65/gallon. These compare to NYSERDA’s current average price for the region of $2.69/gallon.
Membership in the co-op for this upcoming heating season opens from July 1 through August 15, and is available through their website: midhudsonfuelbuyingcoop.org. Telephone: 845 762 5002. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.