ATLANTA - Georgia’s governor is speaking only to Channel 2 Action News about his executive order to protect Georgians against price gouging because of a gasoline outage affecting the state.
The company that owns the damaged pipeline in Alabama that's dried up gas supplies across the metro is now using another pipeline to move gas.
But until more gas gets to our area, the governor is warning some sellers that it is illegal to sock it to consumers already nervous about the gas supply.
Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order reiterating an existing law preventing price gouging during an emergency.
“(It’s) simply to point out to the public that we have a statute on the books in Georgia that makes it illegal to price gouge in times of emergency, and of course an emergency has been declared by me,” Deal told Channel 2's Richard Elliot.
PRICE GOUGING? Any concerns regarding gas prices and gouging should be reported to the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs at 800-869-1123 or www.consumer.ga.gov/.
The law doesn't prevent price increases but does limit how much gas sellers can raise prices.
If a gas station is paying 5 percent more for fuel, it can't charge more than 5 percent more to drivers. Anything over that is price gouging.
“It would have to be demonstrated that it was an extraordinarily high jump in the price tag that is being charged to the public,” Deal said.
- Colonial Pipeline says gas should be flowing by end of week
- Drivers paying more for gas as price increases continue
- Gas is not selling in Georgia for $9.99
- Gas prices expected to jump again
- Broken pipeline causing spotty gas outages in metro area
Elliot went by a gas station in southwest Atlanta on McDaniels Street. It was out of premium gas, but had plenty of regular.
Deal is also concerned about how people are reacting to the gas outages.
His office has reports of people filling up 5-gallon gas cans and hoarding the fuel or panicky people rushing to stations to fill up when they don't really have to.
He believes there wouldn't be a problem if people just acted normally.
“If they just maintain their normal driving patterns and their travel patterns and their consumption of gasoline in terms of when they fill their vehicles up, I think we'll be able to get through this without too many interruptions,” Deal told Elliot.
Deal said if you have any reports of price gouging, you should report it to the division of consumer protection in the attorney general's office.
The governor’s full order says:
“Due to a leak in a critical fuel pipeline in Alabama, which is currently undergoing repairs, Georgia and other states have experienced interruptions in motor fuel supply," Deal said. “There have been recent reports that wholesale and retail gas prices have substantially increased in some markets. In order to remedy this, I've issued an executive order reiterating the state law prohibiting price gouging. In addition to this, I’ve sought and received a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency as well as lifted operating regulations for commercial truck drivers hauling motor fuel. I urge the public to maintain regular consumption levels and travel schedules in order to reduce further interruption in fuel supply.”
AAA: Outage won’t last much longer
While some stations are running dry of gas in the metro, AAA is saying the outage won’t last long.
Breanne Kelly told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik she waiting nearly 20 minutes to fill up her tank at an Alpharetta RaceTrac gas station.
"It was a line like it was Katrina again," Kelly said. "There's lines everywhere."
AAA’s Garrett Townsend says despite what looks like a lack of gas, this situation should not be called a gas shortage.
“Colonial, without question, supplies 40 percent of the Southeast, so it is a significant number, but it's not a shortage in the sense that there is fuel that's out there. It's just taking a little bit of time for the fuel to get to the terminals to the local stations," Townsend told Petchenik.
Townsend told Petchenik that gas prices have gone up $0.05 a gallon on Monday alone.
"Once it's repaired, hopefully it'll level off and then go back down, which is traditionally what we've seen this time of the year," Townsend said.
"I think it's more crazy than it needs to be. People are freaking out," Kelly said.
Businesses impacted by gas outage
The gas outage is impacting delivery businesses that count on fuel to get things done.
The owner of a Cobb County-based limousine service told Channel 2’s Tom Regan that the outage is starting to have impact on his bottom line.
At Marco’s Pizza they're keeping busy in the kitchen, and on the roads, looking for gas as they make their deliveries.
“One of my driver's did find a BP that said it was out of gas, but did actually have some. It's going to be a little bit harder to find, but we're doing alright," John Barnett of Marco’s Pizza said.
Angel Thomas is a floral designer at Flowers of Marietta.
The owner told Regan if the situation goes on much longer, he's worried about making all of his flower deliveries and getting bulk flowers delivered to him.
“They only had premium and it was $2.99 a gallon in Douglas County," Thomas said.
But Rich Nurik told Regan he has a backup plan for the store.
“We also use a courier service and we will put more of that business to the courier service short term to cover our long-distance delivers,” Nurik said.
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