The Idaho Office of Attorney General has reached an agreement with three Idaho gas retailers after an investigation into their fuel pricing practices following Gov. Brad Little’s March state of emergency declaration due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The agreement is the result of concerns the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division raised following the declaration of the state of emergency, and it involves gas retailers Maverick, Jacksons Food Stores Inc. and Stinker Stores Inc. Maverick and Jacksons Food Stores have each agreed to provide $600,000 in consumer redress, while Stinker Stores, Inc. will provide $300,000 in redress, according to a news release from the Idaho Office of Attorney General.
The attorney general’s office felt the investigation was necessary following state and federal emergency orders, which triggered Idaho’s price gouging law. The law prohibits the sale of food, pharmaceuticals, water or fuel “at an exorbitant or excessive price,” when an emergency declaration is in place, according to the statute.
“Under the agreement, each company will earn credits by selling fuel at a price at which it can earn credits when the margin between the gas retailer’s retail price and the wholesale price for its product is less than the existing average margin of the states surrounding Idaho,” according to the release. “For example, if the average margin in a given month between the retail and wholesale prices in the states surrounding Idaho is $.25 per gallon, and one of the retailers sells a consumer ten gallons of gas at a price with a margin that is $.15 per gallon, the retailer would earn a credit of $1 towards their redress obligation.”
Beginning in January, the retailers will have a year to satisfy the credit obligations, according to the release.
None of the retailers have admitted to any wrongdoing.
In a joint statement Monday, all three retailers said they disagreed with the premise of the office’s investigation, but couldn’t deny the benefits it would create for consumers.
“It provides us with another opportunity to offer consumers a break at Idaho fuel pumps just when they need one,” according to the statement. “We are happy to do our part to make it happen. The hundreds of convenience stores and gas stations in Idaho are a reliable source of employment for thousands of people. The industry has been a crucial, consistent provider of food, fuel and supplies for frontline workers and other customers during times of emergency. It is fitting that we would once again step up to voluntarily provide this kind of relief to all consumers.”