New Law Allows N.Y. Retailers to Sell Unbranded Gas

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New Law Allows N.Y. Retailers to Sell Unbranded Gas

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A new law signed last week by New York Governor David Paterson allows gas retailers affiliated with a major oil company to purchase and sell unbranded gas, though such retailers are not sure there is a benefit in doing so.

While affiliated stations are typically required under contract to buy gas made by those companies, the new law permits such stations -- provided they own their tanks and pumps -- to buy cheaper unbranded gas that can be purchased at a discount, the Albany Times-Union reported.

"At a time when New Yorkers are struggling to cover the basic cost of commuting to work, the governor signed this bill in an effort to lower gas prices for consumers," the governor’s spokeswoman, Erin Duggan, told the paper. "This legislation is expected to create a more competitive retail environment, which should lead to savings at the gas pump."

While the law goes into effect immediately, not all station owners are expected to start offering unbranded gas immediately, according to the report. But the law could lower prices in the near term by forcing large oil companies to change pricing strategies, the report stated. Under the new legislation, stations offering unbranded gas would have to post that fact along with the price.

"It's been a goal of ours for a lot of years," Ralph Bombardiere, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops, told the paper.

However, the New York State Petroleum Council opposed the bill, stating it would be impossible to verify whether stations were commingling branded gas—which often contains additives—with unbranded gas.

"It's bad public policy, but it's the law," Michael Doyle, executive director of the council, told the paper.

And some retailers believe there will be little benefit to the law. Cleve-Hill Tire and Auto, located in Cheektowaga, sells Sunoco-branded gasoline, and it’s owner, Joe Nicosia, told area television station WGRZ he has no plans to take advantage of the new law. Due to a provision allowing Sunoco to require its gasoline be kept separate from any other brands, it's hardly practical to do so, according to Nicosia.

"So I would need to buy a new pump. Those pumps are $15,000. I also need my own new tanks in the ground. That's another $20,000," Nicosia told the station.

"It all sounds good, but I think this is more political posturing on the part of Albany," added Nisocia.