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Choosing the right moment to lock in fuel prices

CORNWALL — Like many other individuals and entities, town officials are carefully biding their time on locking into a heating fuel bid for the coming winter. The price for a barrel of crude appears to have hit its peak and began sliding downward this week.

But there is not a lot of optimism that it won’t eventually climb back up, or even go higher.

With lock-in prices in the region soaring to well over $4 a gallon, it has seemed pointless to lock in.

First Selectman Gordon Ridgway said the town has quotes from Scasco and the consortium that the Region One school district belongs to. The latter is 40 cents lower, at $4.20.

Cornwall has not purchased through the consortium before, and there was discussion at Tuesday’s board meeting about the ability to get companies to offer service contracts if they are not providing the oil. But, it was noted, the town does not currently use service contracts for any of its buildings. It relies on local plumbing and heating concerns to perform regular maintenance and repairs.

The latest word from Region One is a potential consortium price of $3.75. That was the popular guess during the budget-making season. A 30-cent increase in one day alone in June dashed those plans, and illustrated how unpredictable the market for oil is right now.

It’s all about timing.

A new consortium price is expected in early to mid-September, and so the selectmen will wait. Town building fuel oil use totals about 10,000 gallons for the heating season. The potential to save, or lose, will likely be in the range of thousands of dollars.

Seeking members for a fuel coalition

CORNWALL — The Cornwall Energy Task Force is seeking households interested in joining a fuel cooperative for the winter. A price cannot be determined until the number of members is established and a contract negotiated with a supplier. Anyone interested should call Ray Fontaine at 860-672-6293 or the selectmen’s office at 860-672-4959.

Help available through fuel fund

CORNWALL — The coming heating season is going to be a tough one for many residents, and those who can afford to are asked to make a donation to the Cornwall Fuel Fund. Checks should be made payable to the town of Cornwall, designated for fuel, and sent to PO Box 97, Cornwall CT 06753.

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