COVID-19 Information for VFDA Members Our economy and our lives will be altered over the next few months as we all face an uncertain future. VFDA is focused on the health and safety of the employees and customers of Vermont’s energy providers. VFDA staff is on the job and available to answer your questions and help where we can.
Governor Phil Scott has issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order and directed the closure of in-person operations for all non-essential businesses in Vermont. As of March 25, all businesses and not-for-profit entities not expressly exempted in the order must suspend all in-person business operations. Operations that can be conducted online or by phone, or sales that can be facilitated with curbside pickup or delivery only, can continue. These restrictive measures are in place to minimize all unnecessary activities outside the home to slow the spread of this virus and protect the public.
What workforce is considered essential? Businesses that provide “fuel products and supply” are on the list. to download the Vermont Executive Order that declares those in the fuel industry are part of the “essential workforce” and to download a template letter for you and/or your employees to carry if they get stopped in Vermont. This document is not required, but may be helpful for anyone traveling to and from work.
The Stay Home, Stay Safe order will be in effect until April 15, 2020. If you or one of your employees is in need of child care, fill out or call 1-877-705-9008 to speak to a childcare referral specialist with the Vermont Department of Children and Families.
While some businesses are laying off employees, others need help. We're working with other business organizations to collect information about companies that are hiring. If you have a job that needs filled, to fill out an online form that will get posted to a hosted by the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce.
We understand that some of your employees are working from home and want to provide online materials that will keep them engaged. VFDA is developing a catalog of online resources that are geared to the fuel industry. These include technical education (some for credit) and customer service training. to review.
Resources for Individuals and Businesses
for a summary of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, And Economic Security Act (CARES Act)
This is the $2 trillion stimulus bill that was signed into law on March 27.
Small business owners can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan of up to $10,000
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.
The Small Business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loans to eligible small businesses to cover payroll and other expenses.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus outbreak. While fuel is included in this declaration, it is not clear what is meant by “transporting emergency relief.” VFDA is working with our regional and national partners on a more concrete definition. to download the declaration. Keep a copy in your driver files and on the road where the hours of service of the driver may be questioned. The waiver is effective through midnight, April 12, 2020.
While the Canadian border is closed to "non-essential traffic,” the transportation of gasoline, diesel, propane and heating oil is considered essential and is still permitted.
The Fair Haven Welcome Center and the Randolph I-89 Southbound Rest Area buildings and facilities are closed due to COVID-19 concerns. The parking areas of these two locations are still open to the public.
All Vermont DMV in-person transactions have been suspended until further notice. Transactions can still be completed through the mail, electronic methods or over the phone. Vermont has issued a temporary waiver of IRP/IFTA and 72 hour trip permit requirements. Vermont asks that no enforcement action be taken against vehicles with no or expired IRP or IFTA credentials for 90 days from the date of the Emergency Declaration. All fuel distributor reports required to be filed with DMV are still required to be filed on time.
Any Vermont vehicle registration or drivers license expiring March 31, 2020 will be valid for an additional 90 days. VFDA has confirmed that a 90 grace period is in the works for oilheat and gas certifications. Legislation may be required to create a similar grace period for electrical and plumbing licenses.
Most Vermont towns require an overweight permit for any truck in excess of 24,000 pounds. Fuel trucks can get an exemption for $5 (or $10 for an entire fleet) through an annual permit. While due on March 31 of every year, VFDA and others in the trucking industry have asked for a 90 day grace period, due to the closure of many town offices because of COVID-19. We have not been granted a reprieve….yet. to reaad our request to Governor Scott. for a list of towns that require permitting, where to apply, and to download a permit form.
The U.S. DOT has issued guidance for employers who may have difficulty conducting mandated federal drug and alcohol testing due the recent COVID-19 outbreak. for more information.
The Public Service Department has moved to performing only outdoor field inspections on jurisdictional propane accounts until further notice. The PSD will not be scheduling any indoor records inspections at the operators’ offices until further notice.
While the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) does not have the legal authority to waive the requirement that new customer fuel oil tanks be inspected before first fill, they do have discretion when it comes to enforcement. Additionally, the DEC has confirmed they will accept “virtual” tank inspections in which the customer provides pictures or video of their tank.
If you have a customer having trouble paying for heating fuel, there is still crisis fuel assistance money available. The Fuel Assistance Office has confirmed to VFDA that they are working to ensure that those that recently lost their jobs receive eligibility consideration by removing the 30 day income “look back” requirement. Vermonters in need of help should call 1-800-479-6151 to apply for emergency heating assistance.
The Governor of New Hampshire declared that fuel providers can not discontinue service for non-payment. It is not clear how this would impact the delivery of heating fuel and propane in New Hampshire. VFDA’s regional partners—PGANE and Energy Marketers of New Hampshire— are working on this now. No such proclamation has been issued in Vermont. However, propane companies can not deny service to a customer if they have cash for a minimum delivery, even if they have back balance. Existing law (CP-111) also requires a propane dealer to notify their customer at least 14 days before disconnecting service. Service must be reconnected if the customer offers a reasonable repayment plan.
VFDA has cancelled all classes in March and April. We will make a determination on whether to cancel classes in May after we receive guidance from public health authorities. We will notify anyone that has registered for a class if and when it is cancelled.
The Vermont Fuel Conference at the Spruce Lodge in Stowe will be rescheduled. We are now looking at dates in September. If you have made hotel reservations for May 3, 4 or 5, you should call the hotel directly to cancel (1-888-478-6938). Once we have firmed up a new date in September, we will send a notice to all members.
Looking for ways to protect your family, your employees and customers? to check out a free online training that covers basic techniques to protect yourself and others from the spread of illness. The New England Fuel Institute (NEFI) is providing COVID-19 related guidance to heating fuel and energy service providers. This includes best practices on how to keep employees and customers safe and healthy. It’s available at . The CDC has information on , including resources and tips for yourself, families and children, and first responders.
Information on Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program .
Vermont COVID-19 as of April 6, 2020