A major propane shortage is prompting the Indiana Attorney General's office to step up its fight against price gouging. A recently-extended emergency proclamation from Governor Mike Pence enables Greg Zoeller's office to investigate claims of companies charging an “unconscionable amount” for the fuel. January 31, 2014
Statement From The Office of Attorney General Greg Zoeller
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Gov. Mike Pence's decision today to declare an energy emergency in response to the propane shortage authorizes the Indiana Attorney General’s Office to use certain investigative and enforcement powers.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said an energy emergency allows his office to investigate consumer claims of price gouging and if violations are found, seek injunctive relief, consumer restitution and civil penalties.
“In the majority of instances, propane prices are being driven by substantial market forces. However, this emergency authority allows my office to thoroughly investigate price gouging complaints to determine if any violations exist,” Zoeller said. “If there is any evidence of consumers being taken advantage of during these already difficult times, my office will take action. Hoosiers should also know that we will continue to closely monitor the price of propane sold at all levels of the market.”
Under Indiana law (IC 4-6-9.1), price gouging occurs when a consumer is charged an “unconscionable amount” for the sale of fuel. For example, if the amount charged grossly exceeds the average price of fuel during the seven days before the emergency was declared or if the amount is not attributable to cost factors to the retailer.
Since Dec. 16, the Attorney General's office has received 23 consumer complaints related to the propane shortage and 21 of those are concerning the high prices.
Hoosiers who want to report suspected price gouging can do so by calling the Attorney General’s Office hotline toll-free at 1-866-241-9753 or visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com.
Source: The Office of the Attorney General