The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 9: Commerce and Trade

Chapter 63: CONSUMER PROTECTION

Sub-Chapter 01: General Provisions

9 V.S.A. § 2461d. Price gouging of petroleum products and heating fuel products



§ 2461d. Price gouging of petroleum products and heating fuel products

(a) Definitions For the purposes of this section:

(1) A "market emergency" shall be declared by the governor. The market emergency shall continue for 30 days or until terminated by the governor. The governor may extend the market emergency for additional 30-day periods. "Market emergency" means any abnormal disruption of any market for petroleum products or heating fuel products, including any actual or threatened shortage in the supply of petroleum products or heating fuel products or any actual or threatened increase in the price of petroleum products or heating fuel products resulting from severe weather, convulsion of nature, supply manipulation, failure or shortage of electric power or other source of energy, strike, civil disorder, act of war, terrorist attack, national or local emergency, or other extraordinary adverse circumstances.

(2) "Petroleum or heating fuel product" means motor fuels, liquefied petroleum gas, fuel oil, kerosene, and wood pellets used for heating or cooking purposes.

(3) "Petroleum or heating fuel-related business" means any producer, supplier, wholesaler, distributor, or retail seller of any petroleum or heating fuel product.

(b) It is an unfair and deceptive act and practice in commerce and a violation of section 2453 of this title for any petroleum or heating fuel-related business during a market emergency or seven days prior thereto to sell or offer to sell any petroleum product or heating fuel product for an amount that represents an unconscionably high price.

(c) A price is unconscionably high if:

(1) the amount charged during the market emergency or seven days prior thereto represents a gross disparity between the price of the petroleum product or heating fuel product charged by the petroleum or heating fuel related business and:

(A) the price at which the same product was sold or offered for sale by that business in the usual course of business immediately prior to the date of the declaration of the market emergency; or

(B) the price at which the same or similar petroleum product or heating fuel product is readily obtainable by the buyer and other buyers in the trade area in which the petroleum- or heating-fuel-related business markets the product; and

(2) the disparity is not substantially attributable to increased prices charged by the petroleum product or heating fuel product suppliers or increased costs due to a market emergency. (Added 2005, No. 210 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)