Attorney General Tong Announces Gasoline Abnormal Market Disruption in Place Through April 2
Notice of Market Disruption Triggers Price Gouging Consumer Protections
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong announced an “abnormal market disruption” in gasoline prices will trigger additional consumer protections against price gouging through April 2, 2022.
“Gas prices fluctuate constantly, and price changes and price increases are normal. But what we have seen this past week is not typical, and we can expect even more volatility due to the unprovoked and unconscionable Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has notified my office of an abnormal market disruption, which triggers additional consumer protections during this time. Overcharging consumers is unacceptable at any time, but during this abnormal market disruption it is illegal. If you see anyone charging excessive gas prices, I want to know. We will investigate every report and will take strong action against anyone taking advantage of Connecticut consumers during this international crisis,” said Attorney General Tong.
“While consumers can expect gas prices to fluctuate more than usual at this time, any unconsciously high increase could be a sign of price gouging, which is illegal,” said DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “Consumers who suspect price gouging at the pump should file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General.”
“DEEP is working closely with the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Consumer Protection to provide the information they need to be kept apprised of the price impacts,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “We will continue to partner with them to ensure they have the information necessary to protect consumers.”
During an abnormal market disruption, it is unlawful to charge an “unconscionably excessive price” for energy resources, including gasoline, electricity, and home heating oil. 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. Unlike the retail price gouging statute, the abnormal market disruption declaration covers unconscionably excessive prices charged at the retail, distributor and wholesale levels.
State statute requires that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection monitor the wholesale price of gasoline in the Hartford and New Haven areas. When the wholesale price of gasoline is over $3.00 per gallon and the daily price change is over 15 percent when compared to any of the last 90 days, DEEP is required to notify the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Consumer Protection of an “abnormal market disruption.”
DEEP reported on March 2 that the wholesale price of gasoline as monitored in the New Haven area was $3.062. This price was 36.6 percent above the $2.241 wholesale price of gas as of December 3, 2021.
Acting in coordination with the Department of Consumer Protection, the Office of the Attorney General may file suit against price gougers and seek appropriate relief, including injunctive terms, restraining orders, restitution, and civil financial penalties designed to deter future unscrupulous sellers.
Anyone who suspects price gouging should file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General online at https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/.
If consumers are unable to file a complaint online or via email, they can call the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5318.