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OPA will look at other options for gas supply

(Dec. 4, 2014) After talks on negotiating a new communitywide deal with utility Sandpiper Energy stalled in Ocean Pines, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors last month began to consider seeking another propane company to fuel the community’s amenities.
During a regular board meeting on Saturday, Nov. 22, General Manager Bob Thompson told the directors that utility bills were hurting the bottom line at the aquatics venues.
“The one area that we’re concerned about [are] propane costs,” he said. “Fuel costs are high. That’s the part that’s going to grab us this year. Everything else that we can control is looking very, very good.”
Vice President Marty Clarke took issue, and the board asked Thompson to canvas alternative vendors in order to find a lower price.
“According to Bob Thompson we’re paying Sandpiper $2.96 a gallon for propane at the indoor pool,” Clarke said. “The next day I called the first gas company in the phone book and they’re selling propane at $2.09 a gallon. I asked, ‘What about commercial rates?’ They said, ‘How much propane do you use?’ I go, ‘I don’t know. A lot. It’s an indoor pool.’ They said, ‘Yes sir, we could beat the hell out of $2.09.’”
Clarke said he personally saved 40 percent on his home energy bill by switching propane vendors. Ocean Pines amenities, he reasoned, could see similar savings benefits.
“Do the math,” he said. “That’s a 30 percent savings at $2.09. I saved a thousand dollars a year switching from Sandpiper to Matheson-Valley. We’re talking about saving a couple thousand dollars a month.
“The general manager is certainly on notice,” Clarke continued. “I’m assuming that he has gone out and contacted another gas company. This isn’t real hard. What would any intelligent person do – keep paying Sandpiper 30 percent more than they could buy it anywhere else?”
Thompson was unavailable for comment, but Board Parliamentarian Tom Terry agreed with Clarke’s assessment.
“I think Ocean Pines should always look for the best deal that we can for the best price and the best options,” he said. “I know that Bob [Thompson], at the last meeting, was asked to look into the gas prices that we’re paying, and specifically look at it in relation to the covered pool. Obviously that’s something Bob was asked to look into and I think that’s a good idea.”