CHAPTER 296a
HOME HEATING OIL SALES

Table of Contents

Sec. 16a-23n. Contract. Disclosures. Advertisements. Prepaid and capped price per gallon home heating oil contracts.
Sec. 16a-23p. Registration suspension; revocation.
Sec. 16a-23r. Violations. Penalties.
Sec. 16a-23t. Information on wholesale and retail prices of home heating oil.

      Sec. 16a-23n. Contract. Disclosures. Advertisements. Prepaid and capped price per gallon home heating oil contracts. (a) A contract for the retail sale of home heating oil that offers a guaranteed price plan, including fixed price contracts and any other similar terms, shall be in writing and the terms and conditions of such price plans shall be disclosed. Such disclosure shall be in plain language and shall immediately follow the language concerning the price or service that could be affected and shall be printed in no less than twelve-point boldface type of uniform font.

      (b) A home heating oil dealer that advertises a price shall offer said price for a period of no less than twenty-four hours or until the next advertised price is publicized, whichever occurs first.

      (c) No home heating oil dealer shall enter into a prepaid home heating oil contract or a capped price per gallon home heating oil contract unless such dealer has either: (1) Obtained and maintained heating oil futures contracts or other similar commitments that allow such dealer to purchase, at a fixed price, heating oil in an amount not less than seventy-five per cent of the maximum number of gallons that such dealer is committed to deliver pursuant to all prepaid home heating oil contracts entered into by such dealer or that such dealer estimates is committed pursuant to all capped price per gallon home heating oil contracts, respectively, or (2) obtained and maintained a surety bond in an amount not less than fifty per cent of the total amount of funds paid to the dealer by consumers pursuant to prepaid home heating oil contracts or that the dealer estimates will be paid to the dealer by consumers pursuant to all capped price per gallon home heating oil contracts, respectively. Such dealer shall maintain the amount of futures contracts or the amount of the surety bond required by this subsection for the period of time for which such prepaid home heating oil contracts or capped price per gallon home heating oil contracts are effective, except that the amount of such futures contracts or surety bond may be reduced during such period of time to reflect any amount of home heating oil already delivered to and paid for by the consumer.

      (d) No prepaid home heating oil contract shall require any consumer commitment to purchase home heating oil pursuant to the terms of such contract for a period of more than eighteen months.

      (e) Any prepaid home heating oil contract shall indicate: (1) The amount of funds paid by the consumer to the dealer under such contract, (2) the maximum number of gallons of home heating oil committed by the dealer for delivery to the consumer pursuant to such contract, and (3) that performance of such prepaid home heating oil contract is secured by one of the two options described in subsection (c) of this section. Any such contract shall provide that the contract price of any undelivered home heating oil owed to the consumer under the contract, on the end date of such contract, shall be reimbursed to the consumer not later than thirty days after the end date of such contract unless the parties to such contract agree otherwise.

      (P.A. 01-46, S. 2, 7; P.A. 04-194, S. 2; P.A. 05-229, S. 2; Oct. 25 Sp. Sess. P.A. 05-2, S. 13.)

      History: P.A. 01-46 effective July 1, 2001; P.A. 04-194 designated existing provisions as Subsec. (a) and added Subsec. (b) requiring dealers who advertise a price to offer the price for not less than twenty-four hours or until the next advertised price is publicized, whichever occurs first; P.A. 05-229 added Subsecs. (c) to (e) re prepaid home heating oil contracts, effective July 8, 2005; Oct. 25 Sp. Sess. P.A. 05-2 amended Subsec. (c) to add provisions re capped price per gallon home heating oil contracts, effective December 1, 2005.

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      Sec. 16a-23p. Registration suspension; revocation. The Department of Consumer Protection may suspend or revoke any registration issued under section 16a-23m if the holder of such registration is grossly incompetent, engages in malpractice or unethical conduct or knowingly makes false, misleading or deceptive representations regarding such holder's work, violates any provision of section 16a-23n or violates any regulations adopted under section 16a-23q. Before any such registration is suspended or revoked, such holder shall be given notice and opportunity for hearing as provided in regulations adopted by the Commissioner of Consumer Protection in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54.

      (P.A. 01-46, S. 4, 7; June 30 Sp. Sess. P.A. 03-6, S. 146(c), (d); P.A. 04-169, S. 17; 04-189, S. 1; P.A. 05-229, S. 3.)

      History: P.A. 01-46 effective July 1, 2001; June 30 Sp. Sess. P.A. 03-6 and P.A. 04-169 replaced Commissioner and Department of Consumer Protection with Commissioner and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, effective July 1, 2004; P.A. 04-189 repealed Sec. 146 of June 30 Sp. Sess. P.A. 03-6, thereby reversing the merger of the Departments of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, effective June 1, 2004; P.A. 05-229 included violation of Sec. 16a-23n as a basis for suspension or revocation of registration, effective July 8, 2005.

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      Sec. 16a-23r. Violations. Penalties. (a) A violation of the provisions of section 16a-23m, 16a-23n or 16a-23o constitutes an unfair trade practice under subsection (a) of section 42-110b.

      (b) In accordance with the provisions of section 53a-11, any home heating oil dealer who knowingly violates the provisions of subsection (c) of section 16a-23n shall have committed a class A misdemeanor.

      (P.A. 01-46, S. 6, 7; P.A. 05-229, S. 4.)

      History: P.A. 01-46 effective July 1, 2001; P.A. 05-229 designated existing provisions as Subsec. (a) and added Subsec. (b) re violation of Sec. 16a-23n, effective July 8, 2005.

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      Sec. 16a-23t. Information on wholesale and retail prices of home heating oil. (a) For purposes of this section, "secretary" means the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management.

      (b) The secretary shall collect, monitor and distribute information concerning home heating oil in a manner that will provide transparency of market prices to the public. Not later than one hundred twenty days after October 31, 2005, the secretary shall provide an opportunity for public comment to determine the manner in which this policy mission will be implemented.

      (c) In implementing the provisions of this section, the secretary shall consult with other relevant agencies of the state. Any ongoing assistance provided by an agency that may result in a material budgetary impact upon the assisting agency shall be provided pursuant to a memorandum of understanding, which shall be negotiated between the secretary and the subject agency.

      (d) In implementing the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, the secretary shall collect, or cause to be collected, information on the wholesale and retail prices of home heating oil and shall establish indices of those prices so as to provide transparent market prices to the public. The indices developed pursuant to this subsection shall be transmitted to the public in a manner that provides the greatest possible public access to understandable and current information on a cost-effective basis. On and after December 1, 2005, and not later than April 30, 2006, the indices developed pursuant to this section shall be updated on a weekly basis and posted on the Office of Policy and Management's Internet web site.

      (e) (1) The secretary shall monitor and analyze the information collected pursuant to subsection (d) of this section for evidence of market activities that impair the free and fair operation of the home heating oil market. The secretary shall refer such evidence, together with any other information or recommendations, to such agencies as the secretary determines may have jurisdiction to provide remedies, including, but not limited to, state, federal or local administrative, regulatory or law enforcement agencies.

      (2) The secretary, in the performance of the secretary's duties, may summon and examine, under oath, such witnesses, and may direct the production of, and examine or cause to be produced and examined, such books, records, vouchers, memoranda, documents, letters, contracts or other papers in relation to the affairs of any home heating oil seller or distributor at the wholesale or retail level operating in the state as it may find advisable.

      (3) Notwithstanding the provisions of the general statutes, any information, analysis or work product developed by the secretary pursuant to the provisions of subdivision (1) of this subsection shall not be a public record, as defined in section 4d-33, except as provided in this section. Any such information referred by the secretary pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection shall become a public record not more than sixty days after the date of a referral unless such law enforcement agency protects such information from disclosure pursuant to law. Any information that the secretary determines not to refer pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection shall become a public record not more than thirty days after such determination is made.

      (4) The secretary shall notify the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to energy of every referral of information to other agencies pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection, provided the scope of information provided shall be limited pursuant to subdivision (3) of this subsection. The secretary, in such notification, shall include recommendations for addressing the conditions identified, including, but not limited to, any recommendations for legislation.

      (f) The chairperson of the Public Utilities Control Authority, or the chairperson's designee, the Commissioner of Social Services, or the commissioner's designee, the chairperson of the Connecticut Energy Advisory Board, and the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, or the secretary's designee, shall constitute a Home Heating Oil Planning Council to address issues involving the supply, delivery and costs of home heating oil and state policies regarding the future of the state's home heating oil supply. The Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management shall convene the first meeting of the council.

      (g) The Home Heating Oil Planning Council shall, on an ongoing basis, monitor and analyze the information collected pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, and such other information from other sources as it deems appropriate, for evidence of operational or infrastructure conditions that should be addressed to enhance the reliable, free and fair operation of the state's home heating oil market. Not later than January 1, 2007, and periodically thereafter as it deems appropriate, the council shall submit to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to energy a report on the status of the state's home heating oil market, including, but not limited to, its recommendations for addressing any negative conditions identified and recommendations for legislation.

      (Oct. 25 Sp. Sess. P.A. 05-2, S. 12.)

      History: Oct. 25 Sp. Sess. P.A. 05-2 effective October 31, 2005.

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