It is not a fuel ingredient. Many people may wonder what ‘contains PUC’ means. They may think that it is another ingredient to help engines last longer and perform better. But, unfortunately, it is not an ingredient. PUC has to do with taxes and if it is included or not.
PUC stands for Public Utilities Commission and it is not a diesel fuel ingredient to help you get better mileage, etc. It is a board of people who regulate taxes and when you get fuel that contains PUC, it means you are not paying road taxes at that time.
To learn more about this interesting set up just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can understand what the signs mean when you are traveling through Oregon. If your vehicle is private, then you can’t buy this fuel.
To have a better understanding of PUC, just think of farm diesel or farm fuel. That is diesel fuel that is not taxed in other states where there is a high percentage of farm vehicles that need diesel to operate.
Usually, those farm vehicles are not run on public roads except for short distances. In the case of Oregon, this fuel is for non-private vehicles, and the businesses are supposed to pay the taxes either up front, yearly, or quarterly. They are to keep a log book for miles they have driven on the Oregon roads.
Unlike the farm diesel, the PUC diesel is not dyed and no one is going to stop you and check the color of the fuel in your tank. There may be separate pumps for farm vehicle fuel at the gas stations and those should be clearly marked.
At no time should a gas station attendant give you diesel at PUC prices if you do not have an Oregon PUC permit. The permit is for heavy vehicles weighing 26,000 and up to 80,000 pounds.
The permits are handled by the Dept. Of Transportation and regulate how much tax each of the heavy vehicles will pay. The heavier the vehicle the more state tax they have to pay.
As you know, the price of diesel is going to fluctuate depending on world market prices for crude oil. However, the taxes that are included in the overall price of gas are fairly static and do not change that frequently. Currently, Oregon drivers pay 38 cents state road tax on every gallon of diesel sold.
Then you pay 0.244 cents per gallon for federal road taxed and each city charges its own rate. That rate varies and goes between 1 cent to 10 cents per gallon, with Portland at the high end of the scale.
When you have a PUC permit, you are not charged the regular state road taxed at the pump. That means you are paying about 38 cents less than non-PUC drivers.
That may be good news when you are at the pump but, since Oregon charges PUC permit holders by the weight of their vehicles, it may not be good news overall. You are not escaping taxes when you pay the lower amount at the pump. You are just paying a different rate at a later date.
Now, what has been reported is that most gas stations in the state will only advertise the non-PUC price at the pump. Many private vehicle owners may get to pay their total bill at a lower rate. This is illegal and you could be fined if caught.
You need to remind the attendant that you do not have a PUC permit and they are to charge you the going rate for diesel with all taxes included.
Here is a quote from the PUC’s web page:
“Celebrating more than 150 years of history, the work of the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) impacts every household throughout the state. The PUC is responsible for rate regulation of Oregon's investor-owned electric utilities (Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, and Idaho Power), natural gas utilities (Avista, Cascade Natural, and NW Natural), telephone service providers (landline only), as well as select water companies.
The PUC also enforces electric and natural gas safety standards and handles utility-related dispute resolution on behalf of Oregon residents. In the event of an emergency, the PUC is part of the Oregon Emergency Response System to coordinate and manage state resources.” (source)
“When deciding whether to approve a proposed rate adjustment, Commissioners must ensure the change is fair and reasonable for utility customers while also allowing the utility service provider the opportunity to recover reasonable costs and earn a reasonable return on its investments.
The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) uses a quasi-judicial investigation to examine a utility's operating expenses, investments, and capital costs. Once new rates are set, the utility is obligated to charge only the rates approved by the PUC, unless changed by the PUC. (source)
It takes you to the Oregon Government website and you can explore it to get more information about the state if you decide to travel there.
This ensures the PUC alone is empowered to judge the reasonableness of rates and prohibits price discrimination by ensuring all 'similarly situated customers' are subject to the same rates, terms, and conditions.
If you want to get more information on gas taxes in Oregon, just click this link.
When it comes to road taxes, every state will have different ways of applying those fees. They will also have different rules on who can avoid paying those road taxes.
The amount of those road taxes will vary depending on the state you are living in and how heavily used their roads are. It is best to check with the DOT of the states you want to travel through to make sure you know what to do when you get to the pump.