Downeast Energy customers frustrated by new hazmat fee for fuel delivery


    Customers of Downeast Energy say their fuel deliveries just got more expensive after the company announced it's added a hazmat fee.

    DURHAM (WGME) -- Customers of Downeast Energy say their fuel deliveries just got more expensive after the company announced it's added a hazmat fee.

    Raymond Smith of Durham says his oil in December came with a notice and an extra charge.

    "It's unnecessary," Smith said. "It's a rip off. It's just a way to line their own pockets."

    Smith said he's been a loyal customer for two decades, but these days, he's not a happy one.

    His receipt shows $350 spent on oil delivery, plus $11.62 for a hazmat fee.

    The notice from Downeast Energy explains the new fee was implemented on December 17 for all propane and fuel customers to help offset costs related to compliance for handling hazardous materials, safety, emergency preparedness and environmental protection.

    The fine print says it's not authorized or imposed by any local, state or federal law, and is not collected on behalf of, or remitted to, any government entity.

    "It basically says, 'Hey, we're charging you this money and we're not giving it to anybody,'" said Smith.

    Chris DeFilippo, vice president of marketing for Downeast Energy, tells CBS 13 it's a way to be more transparent with customers about safety. When asked why the fee is being introduced now, he said it's because they're seeing more suppliers do it in other states.

    Jamie Py, president of the Maine Energy Marketers Association said hazmat fees aren't uncommon across the country, but he hasn't seen them much in Maine.

    Smith wishes the company would have given customers more notice.

    "To do something like this halfway through the winter time when most people have locked in as automatic customers and stuff like that, it's not a good way to do it," he said.

    Smith said he's in the process of finding a new fuel supplier.

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