Golden State to study ‘hot fuel’ controversy

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Preliminary results of a study done by the California Energy Commission on fuel temperatures shows average fuel temperatures in the state are higher than the industry standard, appearing to lend credibility to the complaint that vehicle owners are overpaying for gasoline and diesel thanks to hidden "hot fuel" costs.

According to the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the study found that gasoline was sold in California at an average year-round temperature of 72 degrees, which means that drivers are getting almost 1 percent less than they pay for.

Gas and diesel expands as the temperature rises, approximately 1 percent for every 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The CEC found that the average year-round temperature of gasoline sold in California is 72 degrees. Nationwide, if prices hold in the $4 range for a year, drivers will give up over $3 billion to hot fuel sales, OOIDA says.

Motorist and owner-op advocates complain that
fuel retailers are ripping them off at the pumps.

The National Conference on Weights and Measures is meeting this week and will consider whether to recommend to the states that fuel pumps be equipped to adjust fuel price to temperature. Such "automatic temperature compensation" equipment is installed in 95 percent of fuel pumps in Canada, where the cold climate provides fuel retailers with an incentive to adjust fuel to temperature.

The Partnership for Uniform Marketing Practices (P.U.M.P.), a national coalition of associations representing independent petroleum marketers and larger trucking interests (American Trucking Associations), warns against rushing to judgment on the need for automatic temperature compensation devices. The group counters that there is currently no accurate or statistically reliable data to suggest that consumers are being adversely impacted under the existing system.

Coalition members maintain that any variation from the 60-degree standard reference temperature balances out for consumers based on year-round, seasonal averages. And, they say, installing these devices is expensive and will likely raise the cost of fuel further.

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