‘Hot fuel’ on agenda for national conference

| 6/24/2009

A national council that sets standards for consumer products is once again poised to tackle the issue of fuel temperature at its annual conference.

Automatic temperature compensation for retail fuel pumps has routinely been a topic of the National Conference on Weights and Measures and also the subject of congressional hearings, news coverage and a federal lawsuit against oil companies and retailers.

The National Conference on Weights and Measures will take up the issue of temperature compensation during conference proceedings July 12-14 in San Antonio, TX.

What consumers want – and what “big oil” continues to resist – is for retail fuel to be sold using a standard temperature benchmark of 60 degrees. Retail fuel is currently sold by volume only, without temperature being taken into account.

Studies – including data provided by the OOIDA Foundation – show that fuel in warmer climates can reach temperatures well in excess of 100 degrees. The expansion of liquid fuel in hot weather leads to consumers getting shortchanged, however slightly, on the amount of fuel energy per gallon of gasoline or diesel.

The NCW&M has taken up the issue at previous conferences, but resistance from the oil and fuel industry has always been a cause for denial or delay.

The rub, however, is that the same oil and fuel companies that are resisting automatic temperature compensation, or ATC, at retail level are the same ones that complained about a loss of profit for uncompensated fuel sold in transactions “above the rack.”

Oil companies and fuel retailers say adding ATC equipment to fuel pumps will be costly and drive up the cost of fuel.

Consumers and highway users, including OOIDA members, believe the installation of ATC equipment should be treated as another cost of doing business and shouldn’t have a lasting effect on fuel price. OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer has gone on record a number of times to make that point.

At the upcoming Weights & Measures conference, the item of whether or not to authorize states to institute mandatory or voluntary standards for ATC equipment appears as an agenda item for the committee on laws and regulations. Click here to read the agenda and supporting information starting on Page 3.

A vote in favor of ATC by the full conference would give states a guideline to work with. State governments would still have to enact legislation to implement the standards.

– By David Tanner, staff writer