Some pumps can’t handle #036;4 gas

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 2, 2008

RICHMONDnGov. Tim Kaine on Friday issued an executive order to grant a temporary waiver allowing gasoline retailers to use the practice called half-pricing on older analog pumps, which are technically unable to register a price above $3.99 per gallon.

Virginia requires that pumps reflect the full price per gallon. Without a waiver, stations with certain pumps would not be able to sell gasoline, if prices reach $4 a gallon. Recent demand for kits to update or retrofit analog pumps has created a backlog, and many stations are unable to acquire the kits and get them installed in a timely manner. To qualify for the waiver, retailers must pursue upgrades and utilize appropriate signage to notify customers.

“With approximately 1,800 analog display pumps still being used by about 840 retailers in Virginia, this is an issue that has an economic impact on every part of the state,” Kaine said. “Retailers must order upgrades to their old pumps, but this exemption will allow consumers to continue purchasing motor fuel at their customary stations while the upgrades are installed.”

Half-pricing allows retailers to sell their gasoline on older pumps, and suspends enforcement of the requirement that pumps display the full price of motor fuels. The waiver period runs from May 30 to Sept. 30 unless amended or rescinded sooner by further executive order, Kaine said.

Stations that use half-pricing will register the cost of a half-gallon at the pump; they will be required to post an explanation indicating that the total sale price will be double that indicated on the register head.

This method was last used during fuel price spikes after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

While retailers will be able to list the reduced price on their pumps, they must list the actual price of a gallon on any other signs or marquees, thus avoiding any confusion among customers that gas is less expensive than it actually is. The waiver applies only to retailers whose pumps are mechanically unable to display accurately the current price of petroleum products due to the age and design of the pump and who have placed an order for an upgrade that will allow the pump to accurately reflect the price of gas.

“We will work with industry representatives to ensure that pumps accurately display the current price of motor fuel products,” said Todd Haymore, VDACS commissioner. “Our inspectors will take half-pricing into account when inspecting stations that have received a waiver allowing the practice. We also will alert consumers to the practice and explain what it means for them at the pump.”

Retailers and consumers will find information on half-pricing on the VDACS Web site at by Saturday afternoon. Retailers also may contact Bob Bailey in the VDACS Office of Product and Industry Standards at 804-786-2476.