Attorney General James Announces Settlement With Fuel Supplier That Caused Customers To Lose Heat During Cold Snap

Attorney General James Announces Settlement with Fuel Supplier that Caused Customers to Lose Heat during Cold Snap

Ferrellgas Partners will Compensate Consumers who Experienced a Disruption in their Fuel Supply and Make Operational Changes to Prevent Future Lapses in Service

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced a settlement with Ferrellgas Partners LP (“Ferrellgas”) — a seller and distributer of propane and other natural gas liquids, based in Kansas — after the company failed to deliver fuel to customers serviced through its Johnstown, New York office during a cold snap that struck the Northeast from late December 2017 through early January 2018.  

As record-breaking cold bore down on the Northeast over the course of seven consecutive days of below-zero temperatures, Ferrellgas struggled to keep up with the increase in customer demand for propane, resulting in many customers running out of fuel or coming perilously close to doing so. Consumers desperate for a delivery overwhelmed Ferrellgas’s customer service department, with many consumers reporting that they were unable to get through to a live person. In fact, some of Ferrellgas’s customers spent multiple days without fuel, including some customers who were elderly and/or infirm, or lived in a household that included small children. Others were forced to turn down their thermostats to uncomfortable levels in an effort to conserve their dwindling fuel supply. 

“Ferrellgas’s failure to service its customers not only caused many New Yorkers to bear freezing temperatures inside their own homes during a week of below-zero temperatures, but caused untold hardship that reverberated throughout the Capital Region,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Nevertheless, customers should rest assured that Ferrellgas has taken meaningful steps to prevent this problem from recurring in the future and is attempting to make amends with those affected by this situation.” 

After the crisis subsided, Ferrellgas undertook a review of its operations, identified a number of issues that contributed to its inability to fully service its customers, and has since taken steps to ensure its ability to meet customer demand during unusually cold weather in the future. Changes that Ferrellgas has made, or has agreed to make, include: 

  • Increasing its fuel storage capacity in the New York area from 90,000 to 210,000 gallons;
  • Expanding its customer service operation at their Johnstown location;
  • Adding additional trucks to ship fuel to its storage tanks; and
  • Adding three additional trucks to deliver fuel to residential homes.

The settlement also requires Ferrellgas to compensate consumers who experienced a disruption to their fuel supply by providing them with a $200 fuel credit or a one-time cash payment of $100. Additionally, Ferrellgas has agreed to reimburse customers for certain expenses related to their fuel disruption, such as the purchase of portable heating devices, up to $100. Moreover, the company will pay $75,000 in costs to the Attorney General’s Office. 

Consumers who believe they may be entitled to compensation due to a disruption in their fuel supply may file a complaint online or call 1-800-771-7755. Consumers who are eligible for compensation should receive a letter from Ferrellgas within 90 days. 

This investigation was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Amy Schallop and Emily Auletta, Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine and Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia, and all of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau. The bureau is overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Christopher D’Angelo.