Ag. Dept. purchase should add to consumer confidence at the pump - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Ag. Dept. purchase should add to consumer confidence at the pump

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Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan Friday announced new equipment recently purchased for the department's Weights and Measures Division that will help make sure the pump you're using to purchase gas is giving you exactly the amount for which you're paying.

The six fuel analyzers and five provers will vastly increase accuracy and productivity as inspections are conducted in the field.

The new equipment comes at an opportune time as the summer driving season starts soon and with it come higher gasoline prices.

"It has been one of my primary goals since taking office to supply our employees with updated equipment to better provide services to farmers and consumers across the state," said Commissioner McMillan. "These fuel analyzers and provers will enhance the technological capabilities of our Weights and Measures inspectors."

[WEB EXTRA: Old gas pump stickers could cost you 2/2012]

"This new equipment will at least double our rate of inspections while increasing our accuracy in determining the precise measurement of gasoline and diesel pumps across Alabama," said Stacy Boshell, Director of Weights and Measures. "We will have the efficiency of 10 people, minimum," he added.

Total cost of the equipment is less than $150,000, which Boshell says will be recouped in the first 12 months of use.

From the safety aspect, Boshell explained that the division's five inspectors will reduce their handling of fuels with the new equipment, which further eliminates multiple trips to weigh and test the fuel for quality and quantity. "With these self-contained units, there is no possibility of a fuel spill now versus conducting tests with five-gallon containers," he added.

Other states are using these devices, Boshell notes, including Mississippi, Georgia and Florida. "They have successfully incorporated the new equipment into their inspections and have seen immediate results," he said.

The new devices will enable Weights and Measures to step up their number of spot checks of registered service agents who currently conduct inspections and calibrations of measuring devices, especially service station pumps.

"The responsibility of testing devices under the proposed Registered Service Agent legislation now in the Alabama Legislature would shift to device owners," Boshell said. "This puts our department in more of a regulatory position to ensure all devices are tested statewide, which increases overall fairness in the marketplace."

Boshell emphasized the new role of the Weights and Measures Division would be that of conducting random spot checks to make sure regulations are fulfilled and that there is accountability through civil fines, something that currently doesn't exist.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Alabama Dept. of Agriculture and Industries

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