For immediate release: August 17, 1999
Media Contact: Claudia Chandler -- 916 654-4989



Energy Commission's New Web Site
Registers Gasoline Complaints



Sacramento - Last month, the California Energy Commission established a toll-free telephone number for consumers to voice their complaints about high gasoline prices. This month, the Commission has added an on-line site where Internet users can register their opinions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Web address - www.energy.ca.gov/gasoline/index.html - received 4,200 entries on its first three days.

"We put the Consumer Gasoline Complaint Form on line after our 1-800 line received more than 1,200 calls in one day," said Claudia Chandler, spokesperson for the Commission. "With such an overwhelming number of calls, consumers sometimes couldn't get through during the hours the call center was staffed. With this on-line service, people can communicate with us anytime, every day."

An Internet complaint line was a logical extension of the consumer service, since many people first heard about the toll-free number through an e-mail that has been circulating for the past month.

"The e-mail going around isn't entirely accurate," Chandler said. "It calls the Energy Commission the 'Energy Department' and 'the energy coalition,' and wrongly claims that California 'is required to get its gas exclusively from California refineries.' There is no such requirement, and there are a handful of refineries outside of California that can produce gasoline for our State. There are no pipelines bringing petroleum products into California, however, so all gasoline must be shipped in by sea in large tankers, which can take as long as four weeks.

"But the e-mail does have the hot line number correct - 1-800-232-4685," she said.

On the new Web Site, on-line consumers can quickly fill out the interactive form that asks for a last name, zip code, county and any written comments. Results are tabulated along with phone calls received at the 1-800 number.



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