For many Blue Mountain Lake homeowners, trying to understand your propane delivery options and pricing can be frustrating. There is often a feeling of not being in control and worry that you are paying too much to heat your home each winter.
For most of us, propane gas is used as the primary heat source for homes in BML. Many homes also use propane gas for cooking, and drying clothes.
Propane gas is delivered via truck to each home individually. Each home has its own propane tank to store the gas between deliveries. Most of these are large 500 gallon tanks and are buried underground to help keep the community looking nice. Most smaller tanks are above ground.
Renting vs. Owning
When you purchase a home in Blue Mountain Lake, you do not necessarily also purchase the propane tank connected to it. Often the tank itself is owned by the propane company who delivers your gas. In this case, the price you pay for propane may be higher because you are also paying to ‘rent’ your tank. (With Amerigas there is no tank rental fee – however, it may be built into the Amerigas pricing structure).
Renting a tank can have its advantages. Propane tanks are expensive; and by renting one, you do not have to pay the large upfront cost to purchase one. Because the propane company owns the tank, if there is ever a problem with the tank, such as a leak, it is the propane company’s responsibility to fix the problem. But you pay for these advantages in the form of higher propane prices charged by your gas company. And because Company A is not allowed to deliver gas to a tank owned by Company B, you do not have the option of shopping for the best price.
In an effort to save money in the long run, some people choose to purchase their tank. This requires an investment up front as the tank may cost more than $2000.00. When you purchase your tank, you also assume all risk if there is a problem. Should there be a leak, you are now responsible for repairing or replacing the tank which includes removal and disposal costs.
If you do own your tank, you can accept deliveries from any propane company. This allows you to shop around for the best price. These savings can be significant. If you own your tank and shop around for the best price, it may take only a few years to make up the cost of the tank purchase.
Changing Propane Companies
It is possible to change the company you rent your tank from. However this can become rather complicated and expensive. Your current propane company would need to remove the old tank, and your new company would install a new one. For the smaller above-ground tanks, this is a relatively simple process. But for below-ground tanks the costs and complications of excavating make this option somewhat impractical. It is often more feasible to simply purchase your existing tank from your current gas company.
If you own your tank you have many more options. You can either choose one company and set up a pricing and delivery plan with them, or you can call around for the best price each time you need a refill. This involves more work on your part, but can lead to significant savings.
Unlike companies which provide natural gas directly to homes , propane gas companies are not regulated or licensed by the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission (PUC). Therefore, It is up to consumers to educate themselves to protect their interests. A competitive propane marketplace can help consumers do this.