The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

May 30, 2010

Amendment 1 would benefit propane sellers

— Approval of Amendment 1 on Tuesday’s Primary Election ballot might result in costing propane gas users some money. But a local dealer says it would be only pennies a year.

J&J Oil Manager Ken Mathias said an average homeowner who uses 600 gallons of propane a year could wind up paying 60 cents.

The Alabama Propane Gas Promotion Program Amendment, also know as the Affordable Fuel Amendment, will appear as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.

The measure asks voters whether or not to allow propane dealers to vote on collecting 1/10th of a cent fee on each gallon sold in the state. The measure would allow the propane industry to essentially levy the fee on itself, and would be paid per gallon by retailers upon purchases of propane.

The revenue would be used for rebates to buyers wanting to obtain propane equipment that would be energy-efficient. According to supporters, the measure will take in $120,000-$150,000 per year.

The Alabama Propane Gas Association supports the measure.

Executive Director Lisa Fountain says, “This is not a tax. It's an amendment that has the backing of the propane gas industry in Alabama. A ‘yes’ vote would be good for our industry.”

Fountain said the measure would not authorize the Legislature to put a levy on the industry, but it would allow the industry to put a levy on itself

The fee, according to supporters, is so small, retailers will not notice any increase on their fuel bills.

“We're talking about 10 cents on 100 gallons of propane during the first year of the program,” said Fountain. “The most the assessment could ever be is 50 cents per 100 gallons of propane. But it could mean big savings to consumers by helping them to purchase new, more energy-efficient appliances, which will reduce the amount of propane they use and reduce their fuel bill.”

Such fees are already being charged on agricultural products retailers.

“I don’t know if the consumer absorbs the fee or the companies,” said Mathias. “More than likely, it won’t affect customers one way or another. It’s a small amount, but it adds up (for the industry).

“I can’t speak for all dealers, but I’m pretty sure our company will absorb it.”


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