Dead River Company has acquired a longtime Bangor-area heating fuel supplier, continuing its pattern of buying smaller, family-owned heating operations in New England.
Dead River acquired Maine Energy Company in September for an undisclosed amount, according to Lisa Morrissette, a Dead River spokesperson. Maine Energy has been a fixture in the Bangor area for 90 years, delivering heating oil and propane and providing other heating and cooling services, while Dead River is a century-old heating fuel company with deep Maine roots.
It’s unclear how many customers the Maine Energy acquisition adds to Dead River’s portfolio, as the company declined to provide that number.
The sale marks the end of three generations of family ownership of Maine Energy. The change in ownership happened after the retirement of Maine Energy owner Robert Cort in September, Morrissette said.
It also comes about a year-and-a-half after the end of family ownership for Dead River, which was sold to Maryland-based private equity firm Redwood Capital Investments. The private equity sale reflects a trend of investors seeking a return on rising heating fuel prices.
Dead River Co. has been based in Maine — in Bangor and, more recently, South Portland — since its founding more than 100 years ago. It has grown into a regional heating fuel supplier by acquiring dozens of smaller fuel businesses in New England over the past 25 years.
The company purchased Giroux Energy Solutions of Portland in August 2021. This year, the company also purchased Charlie Burnham Energy & Heating Service in Freeport, Scott Energy Co. in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Whiting Oil Corporation of Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Maine Energy, which had offices in Bangor and Northport, started in 1932 by delivering coal across the state, according to the company’s website.
In a November letter to customers, the company said its Northport office would remain open but be rebranded as a Dead River office. Its Bangor office will close, and customers served by that office will be served out of Dead River’s office in Brewer. Maine Energy trucks and uniforms will change to Dead River branding over time.
“Since the transition of ownership, we warmly welcomed the Maine Energy team to the Dead River Company family and have been focused on making this as seamless a transition as possible — ensuring our customers and employees feel right at home with Dead River Company,” Morrissette, the Dead River spokesperson, said.
The Maine Energy acquisition came in advance of a heating season with spiking prices for heating fuel.
Heating oil customers could see a 27 percent in costs compared with last winter due to higher energy prices and increased demand because of forecasted colder weather, according to estimates from the federal Energy Information Administration.
In Maine, three in five households use fuel oil as their primary heat source, a larger share than any other state, according to the federal agency.
Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified the month Dead River Company acquired Giroux Energy Solutions.