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Saturday, July 4, 2020

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New Yorkers Must Now Notify Dealers of Conversions

by Michael C. Trunzo, Director of Government Affairs, Shenker Russo & Clark LLP


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Governor Cuomo signs final version of fill pipe bill into law, obligating homeowners to notify heating oil dealers of any heating oil system conversion

In December 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law Chapter 725, which required the NY Department of State to develop an informational notice of the requirements in state law that must be given to any homeowner when they enter into an agreement to convert a home heating oil system to an alternative fuel. The law also requires the homeowner to notify their home heating oil delivery company of the conversion to avoid the possibility of an erroneous delivery.

At the time of signing the law, the governor issued an Approval Memo noting that he and the NY State Legislature had agreed to further amendments to clarify that the contractor doing the conversion work must provide the homeowner with the Department of State notice, as well as any pertinent local municipal law in which the home heating system in located. Further, the amendment requires that the property owner shall provide written notice to such property owner’s heating oil supplier or suppliers to inform them of such conversion prior to the commencement of the new home heating service.

On April 16, 2020, the Governor signed these changes into law as Chapter 62 of the laws of 2020. Based upon the terms of these two chapters of law, the new notification requirements are now effective. The New York State Energy Coalition (NYSEC) will be working with the NY Department of State on its implementation.

By way of background, when a homeowner looks to convert from a home heating oil to an alternative form of heating fuel, the State Executive Law, Subdivision 13 of Section 378, requires certain steps be followed for the proper abandonment of a heating system and its component parts to protect the home and the environment: the emptying of and removal/abandoning in-place of the storage tank and removal of all its piping, and removal of the fill pipe or filling of the fill pipe with concrete.

This section of the law was developed back in 1996 (Chapter 463) by the Empire State Petroleum Association, the New York Oil Heating Association, and the Oil Heat Institute of Long Island. While the law was on the books, there was no compliance or notification mechanism to the homeowner, and thus, as the heating oil industry well knows, the law is not always followed and, in rare instances, erroneous deliveries occurred. The main concern upon a conversion is not the emptying of the contents or the removal/abandonment of the storage tank, but rather the proper removal of the fill and vent pipes and filling them with concrete, and notification of the heating oil delivery company.

The new law provides a remedy to this situation and to help prevent fuel oil deliveries to properties by delivery companies that are unaware a property owner has changed their heating system.

NYSEC proposed this new law and thanks the sponsors of the legislation, Senator James Gaughran (Oyster Bay) and Assemblyman Charles Levine (Glen Cove), along with Governor Cuomo and his policy counsel for their work to help bring this new requirement into law.

This is a common-sense law that protects homeowners from a potential environmental incident by providing them with the steps that need to be taken to properly abandon a home heating oil system and requiring that they notify their fuel oil supplier of the conversion.


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