In 2014, a KLCOA committee issued a Request for Proposal to all the propane suppliers in our area, with the objective of getting more competitive pricing. Only Superior responded positively with favourable terms so a Group Buy program was formed with them. RLCA was invited to join several years ago. The group now numbers over 50 members.
Superior gets economies of scale in delivering propane and in having a predictable volume for which they buy forward contracts, and Group members benefit with a lower price than otherwise available in the market.
A fixed price for the coming year is set in the July/August timeframe. Group Coordinator Tayce Wakefield sends emails to Group members with the fixed price offer for the coming year (the consistent price per litre that Group members will pay to have their tanks filled from September through the following summer). Group members have a defined window to accept the price (or go with a floating price for the coming year).
There are also favourable terms for tank rental ($49 for 420, 500 and 100 litre) and no charge for satellite remote sensing of tank levels (which is accessible via an app). Group members must be members in good standing with the KLCOA/RLCA.
There are two pricing levels – for consumers of less than 1500 litres annually (where the charge is higher to reflect the higher cost per litre of delivery and for the tank asset on the property); and for consumers of over 1500 litres annually (generally those that heat with propane). There are no delivery fees or hazardous materials fees. The federal carbon tax is charged on top. If you’d like to compare with what you’ve been paying, following are the Group fixed prices for the past four years:
|> 1500 L.||< 1500 L.|
Propane suppliers only fill their own tanks, so customers interested in joining the group must first arrange to have new tanks installed by Superior and their old tanks removed. Customers that are interested in switching fill out a residential application and sign a five year General Retail Agreement. (Some suppliers have no fixed term contract; others 3 or 5 years. All Superior customers are on five year terms).
For new propane installations, a site inspection may be done to determine the best location for tank placement, considering code requirements.
For anyone switching suppliers, an inspection is required to ensure that all propane appliances (furnace, stove, BBQ, dryer, etc) are installed according to the user manual requirements and to code, and to ensure that the connection and trenching from the tank to the house is up to code. If deficiencies are identified, the owner will be informed and given a timeframe to correct the problem, depending on its severity.
Depending on your old tank type, it may be possible to transfer any remaining propane to your new tank and/or your existing supplier may give you a credit for any remaining fuel in the tank, but may charge you a restocking fee. (You should check this with your supplier along with any other applicable contract terms such as penalty clauses for early termination.)
As it takes several weeks to work through these steps, people interested in switching are encouraged to do so in time for the new pricing year which generally starts in August.
Owners interested in installing new propane furnaces and other appliances should work with local HVAC contractors on these installations as well as the exterior trenching required (but note that propane suppliers have incentive programs for local contractors to encourage their customers to go with that propane supplier).
We believe that customers of other propane companies have also benefitted from the Group Buy Program as their suppliers have been forced to offer more competitive prices to keep their customers, although an informal survey of what Kennisis area residents have been charged indicates that the Group Buy prices are virtually always the best fixed price per litre of any supplier in the market for that year and often by a considerable margin. While we communicate the prices for the coming year to Group members in the July/August timeframe, we no longer communicate the Group price publicly as the objective of the Group is to obtain the best price possible for those that decide to join the Group, not set a general benchmark for other suppliers in the market.
Our contact with Superior since the inception of the program has been Jeff Voyer, who is extremely helpful and responsive. Email him at email@example.com or call him at (705) 760-1470 if you have any questions – there are no obligations. (Unfortunately, if you call Superior’s general call centre number, they often aren’t aware of the Group, so it’s better to contact Jeff directly.) Customers already with Superior can easily join the group just by emailing Jeff prior to the start of the new pricing year (early August).
We appreciate that Dave Lawrance has agreed to help administer the Propane Group Buy program.