Local News

More gas stations subpoenaed in price-gouging probe

Posted September 17, 2008 3:40 p.m. EDT
Updated September 17, 2008 4:56 p.m. EDT

— A Fayetteville gas station was among 10 whose records the state Attorney General's office subpoenaed Wednesday in its investigation of possible price-gouging last week in advance of Hurricane Ike.

The subpoenas were the second wave of document requests sent to gas stations across the state this week as authorities try to determine whether dealers could justify price spikes at the pump last week.

Last Thursday, the average gasoline price statewide was $3.67 a gallon, and it was $3.68 in the Triangle. By Monday, gas prices had hit record highs, with a statewide average of $4.085 and a Triangle average of $4.05.

The price spike came amid fears that Ike would cripple U.S. refining capacity along the Texas Gulf Coast, where plants produce about one-quarter of the nation's daily fuel needs. People rushed to fill their tanks Friday, fearing stations would run out of gas, and thousands called state officials to complain about rapid price increases.

Attorney General Roy Cooper subpoenaed records Monday from the owners of 14 stations that charged at least $5.50 a gallon for regular gas. The nine subpoenas issued Wednesday included one for the Circle B station on South McPherson Church Road in Fayetteville, which charged $5.49 a gallon Friday.

The other stations subpoenaed Wednesday were in Asheville, Greensboro, New Bern, Old Fort, Statesville, Troy and Winston-Salem.

Companies face a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation of the state price-gouging law.

Cooper said high gas prices don't necessarily equate to price-gouging, noting that a station's wholesaler could be charging higher prices.