Attorney General, Consumer Protection Commissioner: Abnormal Market Disruption on Energy Products through Nov. 10
For immediate release THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2012
HARTFORD – Due to Hurricane Sandy’s continuing potential to affect fuel distribution and sale in Connecticut, Attorney General George Jepsen announced that he will issue a notice of abnormal market disruption that will commence when the existing abnormal market period ends on Nov. 3. Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein today encouraged consumers to help minimize stress on the markets by conserving gasoline where possible.
Since Aug. 4, Connecticut has been operating under a notice of abnormal market disruption that was triggered by a new law passed earlier this year. The new law provides that an abnormal market disruption is automatically deemed to have occurred whenever the wholesale price of gasoline rises to $3.00 per gallon and represents a 15 percent or greater increase in price over the price on any day in the previous 90 days.
The abnormal market disruption triggered by that new law is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3. Due to the stresses on the energy market caused by Hurricane Sandy, the Attorney General is now exercising his own, separate statutory power to declare an abnormal market disruption commencing at midnight on Nov. 4 and ending at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10.
“The extensive damage caused by Hurricane Sandy all along the East Coast – and, in particular, its impact on the New York and New Jersey harbors – has the potential to effect Connecticut’s short-term fuel supply,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “To be clear: Our fuel supply has not reached a critical level. However, we must plan for any potential scenario and, as such, I want to ensure that consumers are protected throughout the recovery period. This measure effectively extends protections in place under the existing notice of abnormal market disruption for an additional week, a step necessitated by conditions in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.”
The notice of an abnormal market disruption is posted on the Attorney General’s Web site.
Commissioner Rubenstein urged consumers to help keep fuel supplies flowing smoothly by conserving gasoline.
“As with prior market disruptions, we encourage consumers to use gas conservatively – limit unnecessary driving and avoid topping off or filling the gas tank more than usual,” Commissioner Rubenstein said.
A statutory notice of an “abnormal market disruption” means that dealers are prohibited from charging unconscionably excessive prices for energy resources such as hearing oil, gasoline, propane, natural gas, electricity and wood fuels, among others. Violators may be subject to penalties.
An “unconscionably excessive price” may occur when there is a gross disparity between the price during the market disruption and the price in the ordinary course of business immediately prior to the market disruption and the price is not attributable to additional costs.
Reports of suspected price gouging for consumer goods or unconscionably excessive pricing of gasoline or other fuels can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the Department of Consumer Protection at email@example.com. Consumers may also call the department’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-842-2649.
Special Counsel Robert Clark and Assistant Attorneys General Thomas Saadi and Phillip Rosario, head of the Consumer Protection unit, are assisting the Attorney General with this matter.
Office of the Attorney General:
Jaclyn M. Falkowski
Department of Consumer Protection: