AG investigates propane price gouging

Andrea Clark's snow-covered propane tank in Kalamazoo. (Jan. 30, 2013)
Andrea Clark's snow-covered propane tank in Kalamazoo. (Jan. 30, 2013)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Propane problems are continuing in Michigan — and the shortage may be causing price gouging.

Gov. Rick Snyder declared an energy emergency — which allows truck drivers to work longer hours to deliver the gas — this month and is expected to renew it Friday. And Thursday, U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow sent a letter to the president, urging him to extend the emergency declaration, investigate instances of possible gouging, and provide aid to affected low-income households..

The Attorney Generals office is already investigating claims of price gouging due to the shortage.

The price of propane was listed at more than $6 per gallon in some places Thursday. The high prices are making it tough for families to stay warm.

“I just have a space heater going and I’ve got the thermostat down,” Kalamazoo propane customer Andrea Clark said.

Clark usually keeps her thermostat at 66 degrees. It’s now set at 61.

“It’s not horrible, but what’s killing us is just the prices,” she said. “I called the propane company and it was $4.69.”

That’s almost double what she paid earlier this month.  At that price, the minimum propane delivery cost about $1,000.

“That’s more than my rent,” Clark said.

The average price per gallon in Michigan, according to the state, was $2.73 on Jan. 20 — and that was $.40 more expensive than a month ago. And since October 2013, the average price per gallon has increased by $.71.

Clark said she thinks price gouging is happening.

She called the Attorney General’s Office and sent it an email. She said she was told by the office she’s not alone.

Attorney General Bill Schuette told 24 Hour News 8 Thursday that his office is investigating whether gouging is happening.

“We are going through an evaluation of that now,” Schuette said. “Please forward it to us if you think you’re being gouged. We want to review it in a very aggressive fashion.”

Schuette acknowledged there have been complaints, but couldn’t say how many.

“Those who gouge Michigan consumers will face tough consequences,” he said.

That could include criminal charges, he said. The AG’s Office says consumers are welcome to file a complaint if they believe they are a victim of price-gouging.

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File a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office

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