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Department of Agriculture & Markets

    

Joe Morrissey, 518-457-0752, Joe.Morrissey@agriculture.ny.gov
Dave Bullard, 315-487-7711 x 1377, Dave.Bullard@agriculture.ny.gov

April 24, 2014

Department of Agriculture and Markets Specialists Begin Tests to Ensure Consumers Get What They Pay for When They Buy Propane to Heat Their Homes

NYS Weights and Measures Bureau Currently Testing Propane Delivery Trucks for Accuracy, Ensuring a Level Playing Field in the Marketplace

When the meters on propane delivery trucks are inaccurate, homeowners and business owners may get less than what they paid for or may pay too much for what they received.  This month, inspections are beginning across the state to make sure consumers are getting their money’s worth.  Acting State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced that the Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Bureau of Weights and Measures will be conducting tests from April to November on over 900 propane delivery trucks across New York to ensure their accuracy and fairness.

“For most, propane season is ending, but the work of our Weights and Measures Bureau is just beginning,” said Acting Commissioner Ball.  “Our Weights and Measures Bureau works to help both consumers and businesses by ensuring accurate measurements on everything from grocery store scales to scales that weigh items as much large as tractor trailers.  We use measuring standards that are traceable back to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  The propane trucks we are testing are the ones that drive directly to the homes of New Yorkers who depend on propane for their heating and cooking.”

The metering systems on propane trucks are required to be tested once per year.  The Bureau of Weights and Measures typically tests these systems throughout New York State at propane company facilities.  Tests are conducted from spring to fall in order to avoid conflicts with the heating season when trucks are at their busiest.  Propane trucks operate complex metering systems that incorporate some of the latest metering technologies.  As a result, they require extensive training and knowledge for Bureau staff to operate and adjust.  Trucks are sealed once tests are completed by Weights and Measures staff to ensure they have not been tampered with.

The Department conducts these tests using three 100 gallon proving systems.  The truck dispenses 100 gallons of propane into one of the provers and Weights and Measures Specialists compare the meter reading to the prover reading.  If required, Specialists will adjust the metering system on the truck to make sure that it is registering an accurate measurement.

At least once a year, Weights and Measures staff find instances where metering systems that are shorting customers at least five gallons or more out of 100.  When this happens, staff take appropriate actions to ensure the metering systems are corrected.

Bureau staff also ensure the net contents of small 18 pound cylinders used for barbecuing by placing the cylinders on a scale, weighing them, subtracting the weight of the cylinder and comparing it with the declared amount.  Again, the Bureau is ensuring that consumers get what they pay for.

To assure accuracy in commercial transactions, State and local weights and measures officials annually inspect thousands of scales, gas pumps, and other types of weighing and/or measuring devices. They also inspect thousands of different packaged commodities including those packed at the retail store and those packed at factories both nationally and internationally. The Bureau operates several special programs for devices not tested by local officials.

For more information on the Weights and Measures Bureau, please visit: www.agriculture.ny.gov/WM/WMHome.html.

2014 Press Releases