Burling­ton Gas Prices Ex­ceed FTC Pro­jec­tions

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Burlig­ton, VT

Gasoline prices in Burling­ton in June were as much as a dime to 43 cents greater than a Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion com­puter model pro­jected they should be, ac­cord­ing to com­mis­sion data turned over to U.S. Sen. Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.).

While Ver­mont mo­torists al­ready pay among the coun­try’s high­est prices to fill their tanks, the June price spike in Burling­ton ex­ceeded what a com­puter model used by gov­ern­ment economists said was the ab­so­lute high­est price sta­tions should be charg­ing.

While prices have dipped by sev­eral cents af­ter San­ders on Mon­day made pub­lic his call for a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion into un­usu­ally high gas prices, the trade com­mis­sion data de­tail a month-long trend of un­usu­ally high prices in Burling­ton.

The de­tailed data was turned over to San­ders af­ter he called for a probe by the trade com­mis­sion and the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Work­ing at the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice.

As of the first week­end in June, Burling­ton prices av­er­aged $3.84 a gal­lon, about two cents more than the com­puter model›s pre­dicted high and 34 cents above the pre­dicted low, ac­cord­ing to the FTC data. By June 30, the av­er­age price in Burling­ton was $3.68 a gal­lon, a dime more than the pre­dicted high of $3.58 and 44 cents above the pre­dicted low.

Burling­ton is one of 360 metropoli­tan ar­eas around the na­tion where the FTC’s Bureau of Eco­nom­ics tracks gas prices and com­pares them to a pro­jec­tion of what high and low prices should be. The mon­i­tor­ing project tracks whole­sale and re­tail prices of gasoline “to iden­tify pos­si­ble an­ti­com­pet­i­tive ac­tiv­i­ties and de­ter­mine whether a law en­force­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion would be war­ranted,” ac­cord­ing to the com­mis­sion. The for­mula used by the mon­i­tor­ing project con­sid­ers in sup­ply and de­mand, ge­og­ra­phy and other fac­tors.

In Ver­mont to­day, the av­er­age price of a gal­lon of un­leaded reg­u­lar is $3.53, the tenth high­est in the lower 48 states, ac­cord­ing to AAA. In the Burling­ton area, de­fined as Chit­ten­den, Franklin and Grand Isle Coun­ties, this morn­ing, AAA said the av­er­age price was $3.60. Prices were higher in down­town Burling­ton.

San­ders pointed to ev­i­dence that in re­cent days Burling­ton gas prices were 15 cents to 29 cents greater than prices charged by gas sta­tions only about 35 miles away in other Ver­mont towns.

“Prices here in the Burling­ton area and other parts of Ver­mont are much higher than they should be,” San­ders said. “So far, no one has given me a par­tic­u­larly good ex­pla­na­tion.” One fac­tor may be that just four com­pa­nies own 58 per­cent of the sta­tions in the Burling­ton mar­ket.

“Peo­ple who own ser­vice sta­tions have a right to make a profit,” San­ders said. “They don›t have a right to rip peo­ple

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