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Maine CUs Helped Thousands Stay Warm, On Budget
PORTLAND, Maine (4/19/13)--Helping Maine's consumers afford to heat their homes in a rising-price environment has become an annual part of operations for many credit unions in the state, says the Maine Credit Union League.

During the 2011-2012 heating season, more than two-thirds of Maine's credit unions, looking out for their members' best interest, offered some kind of special heating and/or fuel loan to members. Combined, they offered more than $5 million in loans designated to help members heat their homes this past winter.

The average rate on the loans was 4.1% annual percentage rate. Some credit unions offered 0% financing for loans for heating oil.

"The rise in energy prices continues to challenge thousands of Maine consumers, and credit unions are doing all that we can to help so consumers do not have to choose between other essentials and staying warm," said John Murphy, league president.

The assistance underscores the value of credit unions' focus on their members in terms of service excellence, said the Credit Union National Association, which is urging credit unions to Unite for Good in achieving a strategic vision where Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner. Fostering service excellence is one of three broad goals being advanced in realizing the vision. Removing barriers and raising awareness are the other two goals. Consumers can find more information about credit unions at aSmarterChoice.org.

On Feb. 21, Maine energy officials in Augusta noted the statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $3.85 per gallon, up two cents from the previous week (Associated Press via Yahoo! News). The average kerosene price also increased two cents to $4.32 per gallon, and propane rose four cents, to $2.78 a gallon. The government's Energy Information Administration attributed the increase to a significant increase in crude oil prices, coupled with unexpected refinery outages in January.

On April 9, the publications reported that the cost of  oil rose above $94 a barrel, an increase of 84 cents per barrel. Oil was up $1.50 in two days, or $2 a barrel from the forecast issued in March.
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