PORTLAND, Maine (12/3/13)--The arrival of cold weather has brought Maine credit unions another opportunity to serve the needs of their members. A survey of the state's 61 credit unions conducted by the Maine Credit Union League found that more than two-thirds of the state's credit unions are offering low- or no-interest fuel loans to help members meet the high costs of heating their homes during the winter months.
More than half of the state's credit unions offering fuel loans lend on average $2,000 to $4,000 per borrower at an average rate of 3.9% according to the survey (Weekly Update Nov. 29).
"The cost of fuel is high, and winter and the heating season in long in Maine," John Paradise, the Maine Credit Union League's assistant vice president governmental and public affairs, told News Now. "It can run anywhere from the beginning or the end of October to the end of May. During the last five years fuel prices have also increased, which creates even more of a burden for consumers."
Sebasticook Valley FCU, Pittsfield, is offering 12-month fuel loans at 0%. "We really offer it as a service to our members," Jim Lemieux, president/CEO of the $78 million asset credit union, told News Now. "Members have told us how much they appreciate it. It really makes a difference in spreading the costs out over 12 months."
Sebasticook Valley FCU has been offering the loans for about seven years, Lemieux said. He expects the credit union to make more than 100 loans this year, as it did last year.
"Maine's credit unions continue to work with consumers to offer creative and low-cost ways to help people stay warm during challenging times," said John Murphy, Maine Credit Union League president.