DATE: June 19, 2013
TO: P&CMA Members
FROM: J. Bart Fletcher, CAE
Yesterday, Tuesday, June 18, 2013, Governor Robert Bentley declared that the entire state of Alabama is under a state of emergency due to a sinkhole in Talladega County (copy of proclamation attached). As a result, the Alabama Unconscionable Pricing Act (the Price Gouging Law) is in effect immediately. This serves as a reminder for petroleum retailers and wholesalers of what the law states regarding the pricing of petroleum products and other items during a state of emergency.
Your price, typically retail, although the law applies to wholesale pricing as well, may not exceed 25% of the average price of that product in the 30-days preceding the declaration of the state of emergency.
Please note however, that the law also says such price in excess of the 25% “parameter” may be permissible if attributable “to reasonable costs incurred in connection with the rental or sale of the commodity.” Be prepared to provide documentary day-to-day proof of your cost of your fuel from your supplier. Although the law is silent on this point, when we say in the above example, “the average price in the preceding 30-days”, we believe that would have to be that particular retailer’s price at the location at issue.
We realize the absurdity of a statewide declaration for a site specific incident such as this. We will work diligently to correct this situation in the next session of the legislature; however, as of today, this is the law.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact Bart Fletcher in the P&CMA office at 334-272-3800, or P&CMA legal counsel Dean Mooty at 334-264-0400.
Below is a copy of the document and a link where you can download it.