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California gas prices take a dip, amid calls to investigate the spike

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"Californians are, unfortunately, no strangers to manipulated energy prices," wrote Congresswoman Hahn in a letter to the FTC. "Californians deserve to know whether the record-breaking gas prices they are being made to suffer at the pump are due to market forces or greed."

In fact, the California Energy Commission often sees requests like this when price spikes happen, says spokesman Rob Schlichting. While the 2001 scandal over manipulation of the energy market by Enron was a dramatic confirmation that such deceptive strategies have occurred, “most of these investigations come up empty,” he says.

Moreover,  “if suppliers were manipulating prices, it begs the questions: Why now? Why not always?” adds  Peter Zaleski, an economist at Villanova University in Radnor, Pa.

The FTC has yet to publicly comment on the request.

While the claim that gas price hikes are produced by manipulation or deceptive practices is appealing to politicians and the gas-buying public, there are other factors that could account for high gas prices, say analysts close to the industry.

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