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Why expert says Virginia’s high gas prices aren’t price gouging

Posted at 6:23 AM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 06:55:27-04

RICHMOND, Va. — Gas prices continue to rise to record highs in Central Virginia. On Thursday, prices in Richmond cost an average of $4.46 per gallon, according to Gas Buddy data.

The site reports one gas station in Glen Allen is charging customers $4.69 and another in Quinton charging $4.62. Some CBS 6 viewers wonder when is a line crossed where prices are no longer average and instead taking advantage of customers?

Jeffrey Smith, Chair of the Supply Chain Management Analytics Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, said it’s not unreasonable to be suspicious of the higher prices.

One year ago we were paying just under $3 a gallon. At the time, our country was experiencing a cyber attack on a major gas pipeline threatening the regional supply of oil.

Fast forward one year, and the situation has certainly changed.

“We've hit that non-normal situation now by the fact that now all prices have gone up,” Smith explained. “We're dealing with a different crisis from the supply aspect of it with Russia being such an uncertain market right now. It’s difficult to ensure that the supply is always going to be there. So we're starting to use some of our own reserves and starting to release some of that.”

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares’ office said, by definition, the higher prices do not constitute any illegal activity.

"Virginia's price gouging law is triggered when a supplier sells 'necessary goods' at an unconscionable price within an area that has a declared state of emergency due to a disaster. The current rise in gas prices is likely due to a number of market forces, like inflation — not price gouging,” said Miyares Spokesperson Victoria LaCivita.

Smith warned prices at $6 or $7 per gallon may constitute illegal practices.

If you suspect a business is price gouging, you’re urged to contact the Virginia Attorney General’s Office.

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