SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — State and local officials are working to combat fuel shortages met with price hikes following the computer hack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline, which carries nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply.
On Tuesday, Parker’s announced a $50 limit on fuel purchases for all customers.
Keith Harvin, vice president of Parker’s, urged that people in Savannah and the Lowcountry don’t need to worry about a potential gas shortage since there are multiple fuel sources near the Savannah and Charleston shipping ports. However, a temporary price increase will still be a reality.
“I think you’ll start seeing small increases, but if this thing lasts for a week or so, prices could turn up fast,” Harvin said.
He added that for more inland areas of Georgia and South Carolina, the situation is much more dire.
“Where this problem will exist is in the more inland area cities, that are dependent on the pipeline. If you’re calling in Greenville, South Carolina, or Doraville, Georgia, you’d probably feel like the sky is falling,” Harvin said.
As a result of the cyber-attack, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency Tuesday morning, and suspended state taxes on motor fuels through Saturday to offset increasing prices. Georgia collects a gasoline tax of 28.7 cents a gallon and a diesel tax of 32.2 cents a gallon.
Kemp is urging people not to hoard gasoline, saying he expected quick relief from the supply crunch. The governor’s order also waives weight limits on tanker trucks that carry fuel to stations, saying he wants to maximize deliveries by truck.
South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace doubled down on Kemp’s advice, saying that hoarding gasoline will only make the problem worse.
“The best thing that we can do for our community is to continue to be calm, to not panic, and to not top off your vehicle unless you absolutely need to,” said Mace.
“We will get through this in the next couple of days, and things will start to come back to normal again,” she ensured.
In Georgia and South Carolina, price gouging statutes have now been activated.
Any violators could be charged for excessive pricing, with a fine of up to $5,000 in Georgia. In South Carolina, the offense is punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or 30 days in jail.
Consumers can report suspected price gouging using the following:
- For Georgia, call 1-800-869-1123 or complete the online complaint form on the Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division’s website, consumer.ga.gov.
- For South Carolina, call 803-737-3953, fill out a form on scag.gov or email any examples or documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colonial said it’s likely to restore service on the majority of its pipeline by Friday.