When is a fuel history confidential and why?

I always try to get a 3+ year fuel history from clients prior to starting an energy assessment. If the client recently bought the property, the fuel dealer often cites confidentiality rules as to why they cannot provide usage history for a prior owner. I can understand not wanting to divulge fuel prices (especially in unregulated states such as here in Vermont, since the prices are often capricious).

Can anyone provide a legal basis for a claim of confidentiality?

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  • The electric co-op I do assessments for gives me a three-year history even if ownership has recently changed, but I don't give that to the new owner. I've seen a few situations where the seller has told the buyer  something to the effect of "our heating bills were really low" and in fact they weren't. That could lead to bad feelings or possibly a legal headache, so I don't want to be the source of any information like that. If the previous owner's fuel bills are needed, I would ask the current owner to obtain them for you and keep yourself out of it. 

  • I think it's just an easier policy for the fuel dealers to avoid providing previous home owners information. Some people are very protective of all of their personal information and might get upset if they found out their fuel dealer was sharing their information with others.  

    • Personally, I just don't see what is so personal about how much fuel your home uses, in particular when the home is being sold. When I buy something, I want to know how well it works.

  • I've been down this path before. Whether there's a legal basis or not, a dealer can refuse based on its own policies. Unless there's a law compelling disclosure.

    If the issue is truly 'not wanting to divulge fuel prices', the dealer might be willing to provide # gallons delivered by date. Lastly, if possible, a letter from the prior owner authorizing release of said data would pretty much eliminate any objections the dealer might have.

    • Yes, David. Where feasible, we do try to get permission from previous owner, but that is often not an option.

      I do see where it is a moot point on whether it is confidential or not. The company can use any excuse and there is nothing to compel them to share that information.

      There are a lot of other legal requirements to share information on the property at time of sale. Fuel history should be one of them.


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