I-Team: Lawmakers take action to help Mainers heat homes
AUGUSTA (WGME) -- Lawmakers are taking action to help Mainers who still can't get fuel delivered to heat their homes.
The CBS 13 I-Team brought questions and concerns from customers to the statehouse and found lawmakers just as troubled by recent delivery issues. Their immediate focus is getting help for those who rely on propane.
Deliveries are delayed across the industry, but customers of Pit Stop Fuels in Standish said they're feeling extra frustration. Some said they've been charged for fuel that hasn't been delivered, and that's only if they can get through by phone or internet to place an order.
On Wednesday, the I-Team received an e-mail from a disabled man who said he's been waiting two weeks for oil and is unable to re-fill on his own. He said his home is 22 degrees inside and the message read, "I am in fear of me and my pets freezing."
"People are very desperate," said Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham. "They need heating fuel whether its K-1 or Number 2 or propane."
Diamond submitted an emergency bill Thursday morning.
"Propane people have to take from one dealer, the dealer that owns the tank, and this would allow other propane dealers to step in and help," Diamond said.
Right now, other dealers can only fill a tank if the company that owns it grants a waiver.
Rep. Beth O'Connor, who sits on the Energy, Utilities and Technology committee, is hoping companies will do that. if they're asked by the governor.
"I trust in the governor and I know he'll rattle some cages and get Pit Stop to start making some deliveries," said O'Connor.
The Governor's Energy Office is requesting all companies grant waivers. Director Steve McGrath said he's working directly with Pit Stop Fuels.
"I think they understand the difficulty of leaving their customers cold," said McGrath. "We're probably at the 10 yard line, but we're not quite there yet."
CBS 13 reached out to the company today but did not hear back.
When asked if long term changes should be made to avoid another situation like this one, O'Connor said, "Right now, I don't think we need legislation. This is a one time thing."
But Diamond disagreed. He said there's work to be done.
"The driver availability, getting certified drivers, and make sure allocation of oil and heating fuel to the State of Maine is sufficient," he said.
Diamond's bill has to be accepted by the Legislative Council in order to move forward to an emergency meeting and then both chambers.
In the mean time, he suggests struggling customers reach out to their local lawmakers.