October 24, 2005


Fuel prices usher in new coal age: Alternative to gas, oil takes on appeal (Peter J. Howe, October 24, 2005, Boston Globe)

When he found out how high the price of natural gas would be this winter, Scott Rose, of Dorchester, decided that the fuel of choice for 2006 would be the fuel of choice of 1906: Coal.

After picking up an old coal stove last year with an eye to replacing his messy wood stove, Rose decided this winter that it would be worth the hassle of switching to coal and connecting the vent to run out his chimney.

He will still pay KeySpan Energy Delivery New England for gas. But for $330, he willl get 2,000 pounds of coal, to be delivered this week to his condominium, in neat bags on pallets in his driveway.

That delivery should last him two or three months. And, he hopes, it may take up to 80 percent off his December and January gas bills.

''It's just a matter of economics," Rose said. ''I can't afford $500 a month for gas, and that's what we're looking at."

Companies that sell coal and wood stoves and fuel for them say they are seeing lots of people like Rose.

And those people are flocking to alternatives of the 19th-century vintage.

Some businesses report that sales have more than doubled, and in some cases the shops are sold out of stoves, and will be out of stock until January.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2005 9:14 AM

Conservatives ought to be jumping on this, there is nothing that brings the family together on a cold winter night quite like a wood stove.

Alsoin, I never trusted those dang fancy new automatic type furnace thingymabobs.

Posted by: Perry at October 24, 2005 9:27 AM

Interesting that coal stoves are now considered less messy than wood stoves.

During the last price hike (late 70s/early 80s) the family got a wood stove. Worked well for awhile until the free labor that collected the wood (i.e. us kids) went off to college.

Posted by: AWW at October 24, 2005 9:45 AM

My father had the ultimate in automatic wood heat - a son! It was even voice activated: "Why don't you go bring some wood in?" and "It's getting cold. Why don't you light a fire?"

Posted by: Governor Breck at October 24, 2005 9:55 AM

I believe that new coal-burning power plants may not be a problem these days (leaving the CO2 hobgoblin alone for the moment), but small stoves? If everyone in Dorchester did this, wouldn't Boston be covered in a layer of soot?

Posted by: Mike Earl at October 24, 2005 10:26 AM

In the 70's friends of ours also purchased a coal burning thingamabob they attached to their fireplace. Too late they remembered why people stopped using coal in the first place, there was oily coal dust in every nook and cranny.

Posted by: tefta at October 24, 2005 12:24 PM