Gas prices are historically low throughout the country but our area of Florida isn’t reaping those benefits. Panama City Beach’s city council and the Bay County commission recently sent letters to the state, asking for an investigation into price gouging.
“As it’s gone down everywhere else, it’s just stayed the same here,” Mandy Watts, a Panama City Beach resident, said. One AAA diagram from Wednesday shows the counties impacted by Michael have among the highest gas prices in the state.
“Their initial argument was supply and demand because there were so many people trying to help and crews helping, but that’s dropped off. There’s no lines for two hours at gas stations and they’re just not changing it,” Watts said.
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office and Governor Ron DeSantis told News 13 they’re aware of what’s happening.
“The Attorney General Moody has jurisdiction over that and she is aware. I think that’s something that she’s willing to tackle,” DeSantis said Wednesday.
There’s been no formal investigation into price gouging so no one’s been found doing anything illegal. However, some say it’s unethical. “I definitely think a lot of places are price gouging. It’s definitely taking advantage of a lot of people who have nothing and are still just struggling to survive,” Kelly Moore, a Washington County resident, said.
So who exactly is responsible for the high prices?
Panama City Beach City Councilman Hector Solis said Chevron Oil in New Orleans reached out to the city council. “Chevron assured me that the wholesale prices selling to this area are in line with the prices in the state. This is not a wholesale gas price issue. This is a local issue, for distributorship and gas stations themselves, who have decided to keep the prices inflated,” he said.
Gas giants like Chevron sell to a middle man and that middle man sells to each privately owned station.
Chevron representatives said they’ve sent two letters to their suppliers, many using the Chevron Brand, asking them not to gouge. Solis said Chevron representatives are planning a trip to the area to investigate.
He said the people have the power to make a change. “Look at these gas stations that are charging too much, take a picture, [and] go ahead and file an official complaint. The more official complaints that are filed, the more attention we’re going to bring,” Solis said.
To file an official compaint with the Attorney General, go to this website: http://www.myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/Main/E3EB45228E9229DD85257B05006E32EC