20 Augusta-area gas stations involved in gouging probe

ATLANTA — Twenty of the 166-plus gas stations under state scrutiny for price gouging during Georgia’s gas shortage are in metro Augusta, according to the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs.

 

But don’t expect sanctions against any of the stations to be leveled too soon. Shawn Conroy, a spokesman for the consumer affairs office, said that it might take more than six months for the agency to sort through the stations’ financial records and reach settlements with owners of each station found in violation of the state’s anti-gouging law.

Eleven of the stations are in Richmond County, and nine are in Columbia County, Mr. Conroy said. He could not say which stations are under investigation because the cases are ongoing.

Gov. Sonny Perdue enacted the anti-gouging law in late September after hurricanes disrupted production at refineries near the Gulf of Mexico, almost immediately driving up prices in Georgia. The law requires stations to maintain the same margin of profit on gas they sell before and after supplies are disrupted.

Penalties can range from $2,000 to $25,000, with the higher penalty typically assessed when disabled or elderly customers are involved, Mr. Conroy said.

After the hurricanes the state received more than 1,600 complaints about price gouging, with some reports of stations charging more than $9 a gallon. The state has subpoenaed sales records from more than 166 stations to date, Mr. Conroy said.

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