Gas prices up considerably in last year
Gas prices in South Lake Tahoe have dropped 3 cents in a month, according to a Jan. 18 American Automobile Association Gas Study of Northern California.
A gallon of self-serve, regular unleaded gasoline costs an average of $1.53, up 35 cents from last year.
That means a 15-gallon tank costs $5.25 more to fill up than it did last year. But on a good note, prices have only shifted a few cents since October.
“Lower demand for gasoline in winter has helped ease prices,” said Paul Moreno, spokesman for AAA of Northern California. “But crude oil prices have increased. If they remain at this level or go up during the coming weeks higher pump prices will likely follow.”
South Lake Tahoe’s average is already 18 cents higher than Sacramento, 12 cents more than Carson City, and 10 cents above the Northern California average.
On Jan. 10, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration conducted its weekly study on gas pricing. It surveyed California gas stations at random and found that the average for regular gas was $1.35, two pennies fewer than last month.
Tahoe Basin prices currently fall between $1.35 and $1.59.
Many large oil companies have no choice but to keep prices higher than independent stations because they pay as much as 20 cents more per gallon for gas. AAA showed that crude oil prices reached $28 a barrel, the highest it’s been in nine years. This happened after reports that OPEC may extend its March expiration date for production quotas.
“Oil traders are overreacting to some hints from oil ministers,” said Alan Kovski, an energy analyst with the Kipling Washington Letter.
He thinks lower prices will return in the spring because at some point crude oil prices have to go down.
Scott Moss, Ski Run Boulevard Chevron manager, said his station’s prices usually fluctuate, but haven’t changed at all since Nov. 7.
“They (Chevron) base our price on a Sacramento market and Sacramento volume and we’re South Lake Tahoe,” he said.
Prices in Sacramento are lower, but Moss said that they pump four times the volume of gas that South Shore does.
The days of customers filling up their tank and leaving the convenience store with a bag full of groceries are over, he said. The replacements have been younger customers who “pull change and lint from their pockets and hope the lint counts for something,” Moss said.
Eri Hillyer from San Francisco was vacationing in the area and said gas here is cheaper compared to his old home in San Diego, where prices rose above $2 in recent years.
Residents of South Shore don’t seem pleased with the 35-cent increase, but gas prices haven’t kept them from going to work during the week or leaving town on weekends.
“A few cents more per gallon isn’t going to keep me from going on vacation,” said a Shell customer.
Moss said that the price of gas has negatively affected the gas volume he sells.
Shell Station owner Donna Barker said her business is down largely due to the lack of snowy weather.
She said that if it doesn’t snow by midweek, the weekend rush won’t happen. “We are at the mercy of the elements,” Barker said.
She also said that prices are up. “Historically, we are higher (in price) than we’ve ever been.”
“There is no way to compete with the independent stations,” Barker added.
Larry Benner, station manager for the Beacon Ultramar gas station in South Lake Tahoe said it is hard to tell what gas prices will do.
“A lot of times the retail pricing doesn’t really follow crude oil prices. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t,” Benner said.
How do Tahoe’s prices compare to the rest of the nation?
The Energy Information Administration reported the national average was $1.28 per gallon, up 30 cents from a year ago while AAA reports $1.29.
Prices at South Shore are 7 cents higher than the national average.
What the future holds for gas prices is anybody’s guess. Moss did say that he recently talked to a Chevron station in Pleasanton, Calif., where prices had dropped 6 cents.
The Environmental Protection Agency suggests these tips for maximum fuel efficiency.
n Slow down. For every 1 mph that you drive over 55 mph, your vehicle loses about 1 percent in fuel economy.
n Turn off your car engine instead of idling. Restarting uses less gasoline. (Traffic jams excluded.)
n Don’t accelerate too quickly. Rapid starts can decrease mileage by up to 12 percent.
n Use cruise control. A steady speed can save fuel.
n Be sure to use the right octane of gasoline. Using premium grades will not increase a vehicle’s power or performance.
n Inflate tires properly. For every 1 pound per square inch of under inflation, nearly 4 million gallons of gas could be saved each day nationwide.
n Plan your trip in advance and listen to the radio to avoid delays.
Prices around town for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline
U.S.A (Formerly Terrible Herbst) $1.35
Beacons Ultramar $1.37
Exxon at Kingsbury $1.57
Union 76 (Formerly U.S.A No. 7) $1.35
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