This week’s edition of the Providence Business News has an op-ed from Julie Gill of the Oil Heat Institute of Rhode Island, which is also a member of the Providence Working Waterfront Alliance. Julie’s op-ed points out that Rhode Island’s heating oil storage capacity has decreased over the last 20 years and that inclement weather could disrupt supply. This could lead to higher costs and a dangerously low supply of fuel for Rhode Island’s more than 450,000 oil heat customers.

In the early 1980s, storage capacity for petroleum-based products in Rhode Island was 350 million gallons. During the ’80s and right into the late ’90s, tank yard after tank yard was closed and dismantled. At the moment, the state’s storage capacity is 110 million gallons. These tanks hold heating oil, diesel, jet fuel, gasoline, kerosene, liquid asphalt and other chemicals.

The Oil Heat Institute Inc. of Rhode Island is alarmed by the fact that our storage capacity is now less than one-third of what it was just 20 years ago, while the state population has increased by more than 10 percent during that same time period. Rhode Island is now in a situation in which an unexpected weather or other event could cause a disruption of the supply for any of the above-mentioned products that are so necessary to the economic well-being of our state and the health and safety of its citizens.

And according to an AP article out this morning, heating oil costs are expected to jump 22% this winter:

Almost all Americans will pay a lot more to heat their homes this winter, even though temperatures are expected to be warmer than average. That’s the sobering message from an Energy Department report Tuesday that estimates heating oil costs are likely to jump 22 percent and natural gas bills, on average, will rise 10 percent between October and March.

If key heating oil supply and storage facilities along Providence’s working waterfront are forced out to condo developments, Rhode Islander’s can expect even higher prices.

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