Sunday, April 20, 2014
By Ann S. Kim firstname.lastname@example.org
The dilemmas faced by customers of a defunct heating oil company in Brunswick will be the focus of a meeting Tuesday convened by the office of Gov. Paul LePage.
Thibeault Energy shut down two weeks ago. A message on the company's telephone said the reasons for the closure were beyond its control. The company has not filed for bankruptcy.
The company's troubles left customers scrambling to find new suppliers. Some had pre-paid for oil that was never delivered.
State Rep. Kerri Prescott, R-Topsham, said she and Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, felt it would be best to gather the various parties in the Thibeault Energy situation. Prescott, Gerzofsky and other legislators from the area have received calls from worried constituents.
"Our biggest concern is helping those in dire need -- the people who have either run out, can't afford oil or are out in the cold," Prescott said. "We don't want that to happen."
Anyone who has a heating oil emergency can call 211, the statewide hotline for health and human services.
Tuesday's meeting is expected to include lawmakers and representatives of the Finance Authority of Maine, the state Attorney General's Office, the Maine Energy Marketers Association and MaineHousing. A preliminary meeting was held Thursday.
"We've made this a big enough priority now, so we have resources. We have the governor's attention, so he can bring a lot of personnel," Gerzofsky said.
The lawyer for Thibeault Energy, Jennie Clegg of Portland-based Marcus, Clegg and Mistretta, has not responded to phone calls and e-mail messages.
The Attorney General's Office has received about 390 complaints. Assistant Attorney General Linda Conti said it is not yet clear whether the company violated any laws.
Jamie Py, president of the Maine Energy Marketers Association, said he will address concerns about whether fuel will be available to former Thibeault customers this winter. He said there is plenty of supply, and other dealers have taken on Thibeault customers.
MaineHousing has 40 clients who paid Thibeault Energy a total of $20,000 through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Those benefits were likely used soon after they were made available in early November, said Kirsten Figueroa, director of energy and housing services for MaineHousing. It's not known how much oil was delivered to those clients.
Because Congress had not determined the funding level for LIHEAP early in the heating season, only part of the clients' money for this season was paid to Thibeault Energy, Figueroa said. Additional funding became available after the company closed.
Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: