We’re No. 1, again: In the lower 48, no town has higher gas prices
South Lake Tahoe residents Fran Matolyak and Maryann Metzger may not know each other, but they practice the same routine in the same city at least a couple times a month.
With gas prices at South Lake Tahoe hitting the highest in the continental United States at $2.76 a gallon for unleaded regular, according to a study released Tuesday by the American Automobile Association, the women say they’ve stopped buying gas here, preferring to save money by filling up at Costco and Wal-Mart in Carson City.
“Every little bit helps. We go to Costco as much as possible,” said Metzger, a Barton Memorial Hospital lab technician.
According to AAA, which tracks gas prices as a service to consumers, the statewide average price for regular unleaded gasoline in California is $2.59 a gallon and in Nevada $2.52. Respectively, that’s a 23- and 18-cent increase from one month ago.
“The recent spike in gas prices is a brutal blow to the consumer,” said AAA spokesman Michael Geeser. “Coupled with the extreme heat felt throughout the state in past weeks, it has become a very uncomfortable summer, on both the skin and the wallet.”
Matolyak, a South Lake Tahoe baker, said high gas prices at the lake are a fact of life because it is “a resort area,” but that as the cost of gas keeps spiraling, she’s been more inclined to buy it off the hill and does so a couple of times a month.
“We shop locally for everything else but for some things, like gas, we go to Wal-Mart where it’s cheaper. Not much cheaper, but it’s still cheaper.”
Metzger says her last trip to Carson City was last week, where she discovered three other motorists in the gas line at Costco besides herself were from South Lake Tahoe.
“We looked at each other and started laughing,” she said.
Several market forces appear to be influencing what consumers are paying for fuel. The price of crude oil, the raw material from which gasoline is made, remains high. Fuel consumption also tends to be higher during the summer as people take more leisure trips. Increased demand often leads to higher retail prices.
With South Lake Tahoe boasting the most expensive gas in 48 states, and California, the lowest price tracked by AAA is in Marysville, where the average price is $2.43 a gallon. Throughout Northern California the average price is $2.58 and in the Bay area it is $2.61.
In Nevada, Reno and Carson City motorists experienced the biggest monthly increase in average prices for unleaded gas. Prices there are up 23 cents to $2.59 and $2.55 respectively. Sparks wasn’t far behind with a 22-cent increase to $2.56. The most expensive gas in California can be found in South Lake Tahoe where the average price for unleaded gas is $2.76. The least expensive gas in Nevada, on average, is in Elko at $2.44 a gallon. AAA does not keep statistics for Stateline.
“It’s not unusual to see higher prices during the summer months, but these prices are significantly higher than a year ago,” Geeser said.
The nationwide average price is $2.31 per gallon, up 17 cents from a month ago. The most expensive gas outside the 48 is in Wailuku, Hawaii where a gallon of regular unleaded costs an average of $ 2.84. The least expensive gas in the United States is in Greenville, S.C., where the average price is $2.14 per gallon.
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