BOULDER CREEK -- Following in the footsteps of two other successful campaigns last year, a Boulder Creek man is looking into the possibility of forming a propane co-op so residents in and around this rural community can negotiate lower prices.
Gregg Schlaman came up with the idea in late November, when members of his Boulder Creek Family Network began talking about the high cost of the commodity during the winter months. The next week, he called half a dozen local suppliers and said he discovered the difference in price between the lowest and highest was more than $1 per gallon.
"There are a lot of people up here who are on fixed incomes that are really getting hit hard by this," he said. Last month, he paid $400 for 120 gallons of propane, but as a member of a newly formed co-op in Bonny Doon, it would have cost only $236.
Ed Landau helped get the Bonny Doon Propane Co-op off the ground late last year. After getting prices from several vendors, it signed a monthly contract with Ferrellgas, and he estimated members are now saving about $1,000 each year.
"I think we're about 80 cents (per gallon) above the cost of wholesale," he said Thursday.
That group's effort followed the launch earlier in 2012 of a co-op in Rodeo Gulch, north of Soquel.
Ferrellgas is one of six options for residents in and around Boulder Creek, Schlaman said, though he expressed concern about the availability of emergency service and the distance trucks would have to cover, which would increase prices.
Schlaman estimates about 400 Boulder Creek families use propane, rather than gas or firewood, but added that's "a very liberal guess." While he works to put together a steering committee, he is asking area residents to express their interest by signing in on a Google Group page and filling out a survey.
Signing the form and filling out the survey is not a commitment, he said, but will provide a better idea of how many people are interested in participating, and so they can stay updated as the idea progresses. Schlaman estimated he has about 80 people interested so far, but will wait until that number hits 100 before requesting proposals from vendors.
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At a glance
BOULDER CREEK PROPANE BUYERS CO-OP
WHAT: Community-wide effort to negotiate lower propane prices for residents in and around Bonny Doon.
SIGN-UP PAGE: Go to http://is.gd/V1U2qe
INFORMATION: Email email@example.com or send a letter to Boulder Creek Propane Buyers Co-op, P.O. Box 381, Boulder Creek CA 95066