Nearly 200 former Irving Energy customers in Vermont will receive a check after terminating their propane contracts years ago.
The state settled a consumer protection case Monday with Irving Energy. The heating oil and propane dealer, headquartered in New Hampshire, will pay up to $425,000 to the state and former customers for violating the state's consumer protection law.
Customers complained that the company was slow to provide reimbursements for unused fuel and slow to remove their tanks after they ended propane services.
Irving will pay the state $100,000 in civil penalties; $160,000 to the state's fuel assistance program, Vermont Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP); and up to $166,000 to former customers for delayed reimbursements and tank removals.
The company said Monday it will update its operating procedures in Vermont.
From January 2010 to October 2012, Irving failed to reimburse 79 former customers for the unused propane in their tanks within the legal timeline of 20 days, and 118 customers did not have their storage tanks removed within the same time frame, according to the settlement agreement.
Customers who did not receive a refund within the legal time frame will receive a $250 check if their service was terminated before May 25, 2011, when the consumer protection law was amended to increase penalties on propane dealers. After this date, customers will receive $250 and an additional $75 for every day exceeding the time frame until the refund was issued.
For delayed tank removal, customers will receive between $500 and $2,000, depending on when the tank was finally removed, according to the agreement.
In addition to the 197 cases already identified, customers can still file a complaint to the company to be considered for a refund.
Customers eligible for reimbursement will receive a letter from the Attorney General's Office. "You ought to open it," Attorney General Bill Sorrell said.