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Standards Group Removes Temperature Compensation From Agenda

July 17, 2009

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The National Conference on Weights and Measures will not consider installing automatic temperature compensation devices at retail fuel pumps.
The conference voted to remove the item from its agenda, citing consensus against the devices as well as economic cost factors, lack of consumer benefit and absence of uniformity in the marketplace.

The issue, which is often called "hot fuel," involves expanded diesel fuel or gasoline that is sold at retail pumps at temperatures higher than the government standard of 60 degrees. That is the temperature/volume used in the petrochemical industry to measure petroleum liquids at the refinery and every point after the refinery, except at the retail pump.

At the 60-degree standard, a gallon of fuel delivers a certain amount of measurable energy, referred to as Btu. But when expanded by higher temperatures, that same amount of fuel actually delivers less energy, according to automatic temperature compensation advocates. The warmer the fuel, the less measurable energy and fewer miles to the gallons a vehicle will receive. For example, if a vehicle averages six mpg, 200 gallons of 98-degree fuel is going to take that vehicle 36 fewer miles than 60-degree fuel.


The temperature gauges, which had been pushed by such groups as the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association, were meant to make up the difference in price. The OOIDA created www.turndownhotfuel.com, a website designed to educate consumers on the need for automatic temperature compensation at all retail fuel pumps.

NATSO, the trade organization that represents truckstops, announced its support of the conference's decision Friday, saying that it levels the playing field for consumers, who would have incurred the cost of implementing the new standard.

"We're pleased that the National Conference on Weight and Measures voted to keep fairness and transparency in fuel pricing and delivery," said Lisa Mullings, NATSO CEO. "The current system yields the most benefits for consumers, who ultimately would have paid the price for changing requirements."

NATSO says consumers would have had to make up for the costs associated with implementation because states are struggling with the economic downturn.

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