- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan attorney general announced Monday he has filed a lawsuit against a propane seller alleging price-gouging last winter, and also noted the state has reached a more than $100,000 agreement with another propane company following hundreds of consumer complaints about pricing and delivery.

The lawsuit against AmeriGas in Berrien County Circuit Court alleges violations of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. According to the complaint, AmeriGas ignored problems and charged excessive prices, Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement.

“I am confident that the action we are taking … will send the message to every propane retailer throughout our state that we will not hesitate to do whatever it takes to protect propane consumers in the winter ahead,” Schuette said.

A message seeking comment from AmeriGas was not immediately returned.

Separately, under an agreement with Ferrellgas, more than 600 propane customers will receive a share of more than $100,000. The agreement will resolve an earlier announced investigation by Schuette’s office that focused on pricing in late January and early February.

In a statement, Ferrellgas said it’s working with customers and is pleased to announce the resolution. The company said that prices were pushed higher by circumstances beyond its control, including increased demand, increased product exports, pipeline disruptions and severe winter temperatures.

“In recognition of the hardships faced by propane consumers this past winter, Ferrellgas has agreed to credit a limited number of customers who were most severely impacted by the dramatic increases in wholesale prices,” the company said.

Due to “wildly” fluctuating wholesale costs, Ferrellgas said some customers were incorrectly billed and that managers immediately started reaching out to affected customers to resolve those issues before the attorney general’s inquiry.

The company said it also plans to work with local and state officials to prevent future problems.

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