Gas prices hit record highs |

Gas prices hit record highs

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / According to the American Automobile Association, gas prices have reached all-time highs in California and Nevada.

While prices at some South Lake Tahoe gas pumps are approaching the $3.50 mark for regular unleaded, new record highs are also being posted statewide in California and Nevada, according to an American Automobile Association survey.

The survey, released Monday, indicates a California average price of $3.25 and a Nevada price of $3.04, according to AAA spokesman Sean Comey. He said the Reno and Sacramento markets both posted record average prices of $3.16 a gallon.

Averages for South Lake Tahoe were not available as part of this survey, but Comey said the South Shore market is regularly one of the most expensive in the country.

According to AAA analysts, the prices are being blamed on factors ranging from political instability in Nigeria, uncertainty in Iraq and Iran, and post-hurricane production in the gulf coast, to the expenses incurred as fuel companies switch over from MTBE to ethanol additives. “When California switched to ethanol, it was cheaper than the gas it was being mixed with – there was such a glut on the market,” Comey said. “Now the demand for ethanol is way up.”

Global politics aside, Gary Iacopucci feels the pain at the pump. The Emerald Bay Towing manager runs 10 trucks in town – and he says the company pays about $85 a pop to fill them.

“Two or three years ago it was probably $45 to $50 a fill-up,” he said Monday. “Now the price of diesel is the same as supreme.

“We don’t work for BushCo, so there’s not much we can do.”

Emerald Bay towing, like other companies where transportation is key to business, added a 5 percent fuel surcharge when prices surpassed $3 a gallon. “That doesn’t even come close to covering,” Iacopucci said.

“You can’t buy anything these days without it being delivered with a fuel surcharge.”

Though a barrel of oil was fetching more than $73 by the end of business Monday, Comey said some nominal relief may come after the Memorial Day weekend.

“Wholesale prices are coming down,” he said. “That should be good news from the consumer’s perspective. We should see (prices) come down a little or level off.”

In the meantime, AAA recommends consumers change their habits by using public transit and carpooling to get to work – or avoid the roads altogether by telecommuting a day or two a week.

“Supply and demand are so related, if we all just save a couple gallons here and there it will have a dramatic effect on price,” Comey said.

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