City frustrated Tahoe gas prices so high |

City frustrated Tahoe gas prices so high

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Despite minor declines in the last few weeks, South Lake Tahoe gasoline prices reflected a huge spike in prices in 30 days, going up 17 cents here, AAA of Northern California reported in its monthly survey.

The average price of a gallon of self-serve unleaded on the South Shore is $2.16. At $2.22 a gallon, San Francisco holds the distinction of having the highest price in the state. California’s average is $2.09, 17 cents higher than Nevada’s and 40 cents higher than the nation’s.

Along with Northern California’s 14 percent hike between mid-August and mid-September, Nevada had a similar surge in prices — 13 percent.

The surge caught the attention of at least one South Shore company and government entity.

United Parcel Service driver Andy Burrow of South Lake Tahoe said the company is exploring the option of expanding the number of diesel trucks in its 25-vehicle fleet to save on fuel prices. It now has four. UPS management has also scrutinized the drivers’ routes and gas consumed.

“We usually fill up with 13 or 14 gallons, but they’re trying to cut back about a half gallon,” Burrow said, while filling up his rig at the Chevron station on Ski Run Boulevard. The station is selling unleaded fuel for $2.09.

The city has also weighed in on the high prices. At the urging of City Councilman Tom Davis, City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo sent a letter to the state Energy Department to inquire why the basin’s prices are higher than many areas in the state. DiCamillo said Wednesday that she’s received no response.

Prices in the region hit an all-time high in many areas prior to the Labor Day weekend as wholesale prices soared and supplies were stretched thin due to a pipeline problem in Arizona, AAA reported.

At least there appears to be relief in sight.

“California refinery production is back on track, crude oil and wholesale gas prices have dropped, and summertime demand has eased,” AAA spokeswoman Jenny Mack said.

Energy analysts expect gas prices will drop more as the retail rates catch up with the wholesale costs. The price of a barrel of crude plunged about $4 to $26.45 a barrel.

“We’ve seen record high prices, but they’re coming down now,” California Energy Commission spokesman Rob Schlichting said from his Sacramento office.

But Schlichting warned that the U.S. petroleum distribution will always be vulnerable when no new refineries come on line and the demand for fuel increases.

“The best thing we can do is to increase fuel efficiency,” he said.

Michael Gimena of Sacramento has taken the advice, riding his Yamaha 600 up to Tahoe.

“I just came from Europe where (prices are) $4 a gallon. This is nothing,” he said, filling up his bike at the Chevron.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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