PORTLAND, Maine — As the first statewide snowstorm of winter 2015-2016 blankets Maine, the cost of keeping the cold at bay has continued to fall.

The average per-gallon price of No. 2 heating oil, used to heat more than 60 percent of homes in the state, fell about 15 cents since the beginning of December, hitting $1.83 per gallon in the latest survey completed Monday by the Governor’s Energy Office.

The cash price of heating oil has fallen sharply as the end of the year approaches, following continued declines in the barrel price for crude oil, according to the state office, which also provides pricing information to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The low prices are likely to stick around in the near term, but the state energy office said projections anticipate a substantial drop in domestic crude oil output early next year, which likely would cause prices to rise.

“Production declines this significant are likely to have an effect on crude prices in the future, but for the present, heating oil prices will continue to be quite low,” an energy office statement said.

The price of kerosene also dropped by an average of 6 cents in the past week, to $2.44 per gallon, while the average price of propane rose a penny, to $2.21 per gallon.

The latest state survey found the lowest price for heating oil in the southwest and western parts of Maine at $1.46 per gallon. The highest price surveyed was $2.10 at locations in southwest, central and northern parts of the state.

The decline in prices comes as the state sees lower heating demand, which also influences prices, according to the energy office. The decreased consumer demand calculation is based on estimates of heating degree days, which is a measure of days in which heating is required to keep buildings habitable and the amount of heating required.

For July to mid-December, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration determined that Bangor saw 10 percent fewer heating degree days than average; Portland had 20 percent fewer heating degree days.


Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.