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Seacost Oil Co-Op seeks to provide cheaper heating oil

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, November 1, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02

Residents in the Seacoast area who are looking to save money on heating oil this winter are turning to a new nonprofit organization that was recently created by a University of New Hampshire professor.

This past year, Whittemore School of Business professor Tanner Hergert and two of his students started Seacoast Oil Co-op. Hergert said that the organization will combine orders from individual oil customers and use the buying power to negotiate low prices from the oil companies.

Hergert is a Dover-based businessman in addition to his post at UNH. He owns six other nonprofit businesses in the Seacoast area and says that Seacoast Oil Co-op is intended to benefit the residents.

"We want to give back to the community," Hergert said.

Seacoast Oil Co-op has been signing up customers for the past few months.  Residents in the Seacoast of New Hampshire, including Durham and bordering Maine towns, all had the opportunity to sign up through Nov. 1. On that date, the organization compiled their orders and made a bid to the oil companies.

Residents who have signed up will be informed of the price of their order by Nov. 5. If they are not satisfied with the price, there is an opt-out period. Hergert doesn't know exactly how his company will do in the first year of business, but he has high hopes for its potential.

"When you get a group together, you usually get a greater discount," Hergert said. "The more people, the more leverage you have and the better price you can get."

As it is the pilot year for the organization, sign-up is free for this year, with no obligation. Next year, there will be a membership fee of $10 for senior citizens, $15 for residents and $20 for businesses. However, if a member helps sign up two or more residents, that member will get a year for free.

"The point of [these benefits] is to market even more," Hergert said.

Hergert's business is based on a similar organization that was based in his hometown of North Conway, N.H. Hergert said that in the latter years of the North Conway co-op, residents who were a part of the organization were saving up to 30 cents per gallon on heating oil.

The price of oil has increased greatly since Hergert saw the effects of the North Conway co-op nearly a decade ago, but he hopes that Seacoast Oil members will reap significant savings as well.

"A lot of the time during the winter, there are families who are hard hit by the cost of oil... we want to help reduce that cost," he said.

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