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Tahoe gas prices have never been higher

by Andy Bourelle

Lake Tahoe’s sky-high gas prices have crushed previous records.

The average cost of a gallon of regular gas on the California side of the basin Tuesday was $1.87, said Paul Moreno, spokesman for the American Automobile Association of Northern California.

That is 12 cents higher than the area’s previous record of $1.75, set in August 1999.



Most premium prices around Tahoe far exceed $2 a gallon.

AAA conducted a statewide survey Tuesday, finding that California’s average was also a record at $1.74 a gallon.



Will the trend of rising gas prices continue?

“It’s very hard to tell,” Moreno said. “Prices have been on an upturn swing for some time. That momentum is continuing. I don’t know when prices will level off and start coming back down. It’s impossible to know.”

If the price of gas doesn’t level out, it could have economic consequences for Tahoe, a popular summer tourist area.

Duane Wallace, executive director of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, said he hopes the prices drop before summer. However, he said he was confident the area would cope with the problem if the high prices continue.

“It will have an effect, but our marketing people are smart enough to have ads that say, ‘Only a tank away.’ And it’s true. A large part of our market is not that far away,” Wallace said.

Terry LeBan, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, said she also hoped the trend of high prices does not continue through the summer. However, she said many of Tahoe’s visitors will come regardless.

Prices nationwide are high for two reasons: Oil companies have low inventory, and the price of crude oil is soaring.

The U.S. Energy Department earlier this month predicted sharply higher gasoline prices this summer. It said U.S. gasoline stocks “remain alarmingly low,” and as far as the gasoline market is concerned, the country “is moving into uncharted territory.”


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