Local: Better Propane Service with Propane Buyers Co-op…


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From TheAVA.com

[Let's get this expanded to the rest of the county... DS]

Last week’s propane delivery cost me $2.20 a gallon, much cheaper than from my previous propane dealer. I’m getting this lower price because I joined the Propane Buyers Club based at the Point Arena Market Co-op for $50 and then applied to Suburban Propane, who now sells me propane at more than $1 less per gallon than they did when I was an individual customer. The Co-op’s Propane Buyers Club gives us the strength of numbers to get lower prices, which by contract can only be raised when the wholesale prices rise, and not just when they think they can squeeze more out of us. If you want to lock in lower rates, read the following and join the club.

Tom Wodetzki, Albion

SUBURBAN PROPANE BUYERS CLUB

http://www.arenaorganics.org/membership/propane_club.html

Propane Buyers Club Info PDF (same info as below)

Tank Owners Customer Application PDF

Rental Tank Customer Application PDF

Propane Sales Tax Exemption Form PDF

Arena Market Co-op members with currently paid dues are eligible to join our Propane Buying Club (no extra charge) and buy discounted propane at the negotiated price. This service is available anywhere in the counties of Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma and Napa. Dues are $50 per year for an individual or a family. Businesses are eligible with a separate membership. One membership is required for each separate home or business address. When $300 has been paid, the membership becomes a paid-up Lifetime Membership. Members also receive a discount on most market purchases at our market in Point Arena.

Suburban Propane has agreed to supply propane at a fixed amount over their cost. At this time we receive a price of $1.00/gallon over Suburban’s cost at the refinery, for customers with acceptable credit who choose to have their tank on “automatic fill.” (To find the refinery price, which changes from day to day, see the web link down below.) When we reach sufficient sales volume, we will get another major discount and only pay 50¢/gallon over wholesale. We only need about 100 members using an average of 250 gallons a year to reach that level.

If you do not meet Suburban’s credit requirements or do not choose to have automatic fill-ups, your cost will be 10¢ higher. The credit approval is based mainly on your utility bill payments.

We appeal to all Club members to support this agreement during the initial start-up time even though another supplier may try to lure you away with a temporary introductory price. Rest assured they will hesitate to offer such a low price later. This cooperative pricing agreement works like a labor union– we need solidarity during the beginning to lock in the best long-term benefits.

Benefits

Each member will experience a different level of savings. Every propane user we’ve asked has been paying a different price. The industry is unregulated– they can charge whatever you’re willing to pay. Here’s an estimate of savings— many of us will save substantially more:

1. Depending on what you’ve been paying, you could easily save hundreds of dollars a year now. When we sign-up enough members to receive the exceptionally low bulk rate (when most members will be paying only 50¢ over refinery) you’ll save another $50 per hundred gallons. The 50¢ rate is less than half the markup other groups pay!

2. Suburban’s delivery fee is substantially smaller than what most other companies charge, saving you $25 to $75 a year.

3. If you’ve been paying sales tax, you won’t have to, so you’ll save an extra 8%.

4. There are no extra Arena Market Co-op dues to pay— all co-op members may join for free.

How to Sign-up

1. Join the Co-op if you haven’t already. You’ll need to join the Co-op and get a Member Number BEFORE you mail the Suburban application (click here to download your member application). So do that part FIRST. After you get a number, the applications you need are available either at the store or by printing out the PDF links above.

2. AFTER you receive your Member Number, fill out Suburban’s application. There are 2 kinds, one for tank renters, and the other for tank owners. Fill out the right one. You MUST put your Co-op Member Number on the upper right-hand corner of the Suburban application.

3. Also fill out the Sales Tax Exemption Certificate. Propane is not taxed when customers do not have natural gas available at their home. Propane for business use is always taxed.

4. Mail Suburban’s 2 applications to: Suburban Propane, 1210 N. Main St., Fort Bragg, CA 95437. Telephones 964-0584, and 964-2406. Mail it to Fort Bragg, even if you will be serviced by a different Suburban office.

5. Suburban will contact you to plan the tank switch. If you are already a Suburban customer or own your own tank, a new tank won’t be necessary and you can start buying at the new price any time.

6. If renting, Suburban will bring your new tank, move the old one aside, transfer your remaining gas, and top off the new Suburban tank. You do NOT have to use up the gas in your old tank.

7. Call your old supplier to have them pick up their tank.

8. You will be billed at the new price.

Additional Information

If you don’t meet Suburban’s credit requirements, you may still purchase propane, but Suburban will ask you to pay at the time of delivery. Each delivery will include delivery fees totaling under $11. Other suppliers charge more.

If you are on automatic-fill and run out of gas, there will be no charge to bring gas to you right away and re-light your pilots.

If you are not on automatic-fill and run out, you will be charged $75 if you can wait until your area’s regular weekly delivery day. For immediate service on other days, the charge is $175 for special gas delivery and pilot re-lighting. Don’t run out of gas–watch the gauge. This requirement is similar to other companies’ agreements.

Tank renters–to keep customers from jumping from supplier to supplier during the 3 years of the agreement (and causing tanks to be installed and removed each time), there is an “early termination fee.” The fee only applies to new customers who receive the benefit of a new tank installation at no charge. The fee is not charged if the property is sold or you move, as long as Suburban’s tank remains in place to supply the new resident, whether or not the new resident decides to buy from Suburban. If you already have a Suburban tank you are excluded–however, the early termination fee you may have originally agreed to still applies. Tank owners will have no early termination fee.

Tank owners, there is a one-time charge of $50 to check over your system. Given your better pricing, this could be paid back with the first delivery.

Tank rental is $65 per year, for all tank sizes.

If your Co-op dues are not kept current, Suburban will charge you their regular rate.

You can find the refinery price on the web at: http://www.dgs.ca.gov/pd/Programs/Leveraged/ contracts/FuelPosting.aspx

Once there, click on the top blue bar, then choose a date. Choose the San Francisco refinery price.

This Propane Club is dedicated to bringing you propane at the best price we can negotiate with a quality distributor. Your membership makes us stronger and we can bargain harder. Our immediate goal is 100 members. Arena Market has over 300 members and our long-term goal is to include each one who uses propane.

If you need further information, please contact: Mike Sakellaridis, Store Manager, 882-3663, Phil Clark, Co-op President, 357-2129, or Peter Reimuller, 882-2001 (9-noon).

http://www.arenaorganics.org/membership/propane_club.html
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