AAA: South Lake Tahoe andamp;#8212; not Tahoe City andamp;#8212; now the high gas-price leader … but is it legit?
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. andamp;#8212; South Lake Tahoe gained the dubious distinction of having the highest prices for gas in the lower 48 states last week, according to the American Automobile Association’s monthly fuel gauge report.But the title of most expensive gas in the country comes with some caveats, according to Michael Geeser, a spokesman for the car club.The average price for gallon of regular unleaded gas at the South Shore was $3.35 on July 13, according to AAA’s July report. The monthly reports focus on metropolitan areas and areas of interests to travelers. The reports do not take a comprehensive look at gas stations throughout the country, Geeser said.The report averaged gas prices from nine South Shore gas stations, among the lowest number of stations sampled for 25 Northern California areas and seven Northern Nevada areas monitored by AAA, Geeser said. The Las Vegas average includes more than 300 gas stations, Geeser noted.Because of the small sample size, individual stations at the South Shore have a bigger influence on AAA’s monthly average, Geeser said. The car club spokesman recommended motorists become shrewd shoppers, because there is likely to be significant variation between stations.But the fact that some of the gas at the South Shore may not be the absolute most expensive in the lower 48 was of little comfort to motorists Tuesday.Ali Dorri had two words to describe gas prices in South Lake Tahoe: andamp;#8220;very pricey.andamp;#8221;Dorri, visiting from Los Angeles, said that he usually pays $3.09 to $3.29 for octane 89 gasoline. At the Ski Run Boulevard Chevron on Tuesday afternoon, mid-grade gas was running $3.55 a gallon.andamp;#8220;I thought it would be less expensive here,andamp;#8221; he said.Roadrunner Gas andamp; Liquor owner Mike Murphy criticized the AAA report on Tuesday. Murphy said he doubts the South Shore is truly more expensive than a place like Tahoe City.andamp;#8220;I have a hard time believing that’s the case,andamp;#8221; Murphy said. andamp;#8220;I go to Tahoe City all the time and their average price is higher.andamp;#8221;Tahoe City Food and Fuel charged $3.46 for a gallon of regular unleaded on July 15 and the Tahoe City Chevron was at $3.40 on July 20, according to AAA’s online price finder.The average price for a gallon of gas at the South Shore was $3.39 on Tuesday, according to the online service.Murphy, who said a gallon of regular unleaded at Roadrunner has been $3.29 for weeks, pointed to South Shore’s Chevron stations as bumping up the South Shore’s average.The Chevron at Ski Run Boulevard had the second highest price at the South Shore on Tuesday at $3.44 per gallon of regular unleaded and the Chevron in Meyers notched the highest price for a gallon of regular unleaded at $3.50, according to the AAA price finder.The car club began using South Lake Tahoe, rather than Tahoe City, for its monthly fuel gauge reports in April.AAA made the switch because of the popularity of South Lake Tahoe as a tourist destination and the greater number of gas stations andamp;#8212; compared to the North Shore andamp;#8212; should give people a fairer assessment of gas prices, Geeser said.While cash-strapped states are likely to look at gas taxes to raise revenue in the future, a sluggish economy continues to reduce demand and gas prices should stay flat through the end of the summer barring unforeseen circumstances, Murphy said.andamp;#8220;People are still in that cut back mode,andamp;#8221; Murphy said.The traditional pattern of gas prices dropping in response to decreased demand when children go back to school is expected to continue this summer, Geeser added.On Tuesday, gas pump prices fell slightly, with the national average for a gallon of unleaded regular at $2.719, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. That’s 0.3 cent lower than Monday’s average, 0.6 cent higher than a week ago and 25.4 cents above the price a year ago. andamp;#8212; Sun News Service Editor Annie Flanzraich and The Associated Press contributed to this story