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Dealing with California’s backward gas prices

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun
Shannon Panarella/Sierra Sun graphic
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The Truckee-Tahoe area ” along with the rest of California ” isn’t reaping the benefits of a nationwide decrease in gas prices.

While the price of gasoline has dropped nationally by nearly 10 cents per gallon over the last month, California prices have increased by about two cents, unfazed by the falling price of oil. The effects are compounded in the Truckee-North Tahoe area, following only the Bay Area and South Lake Tahoe in high prices at the pump.

“There have been some refinery problems in Washington that have had a spill-over effect throughout the West,” said Sean Comey, spokesman for the California State Automobile Association.

Comey said other statewide issues keeping costs high include retailers recouping losses from when prices rose rapidly and increases weren’t immediately passed onto the consumer.

Locally, both isolation and lower population numbers manipulate the supply and demand, Comey said.

He said California’s backward trend may reverse itself eventually as the price of oil continues to decline.

“Energy companies are quick to blame the price of crude oil for spikes in energy costs, so it’s only fair that when oil goes down prices go down as well,” Comey said.

It may be up to consumers to drive the supply and demand curve back down in their favor, he said.

“If a consumer is not happy with a price, they buy less of it,” Comey said. “Conserving may be the best advice.”

Mark Lowenstern, automotive aficionado and owner of Cross Roads Car Wash in Truckee, said technologies that help save gas money in the city may not work as well in the Truckee-Tahoe area.

“A hybrid will provide improved gas mileage in city driving, which is significant if you lived in San Francisco,” Lowenstern said. “You would probably have to drive 260,000 miles to justify the savings up here.”

Instead he suggests either looking at smaller all-wheel-drive vehicles like an Audi to save gas in the mountains, or waiting for hybrid technology to mature.

Average costs of regular gas as of Thursday, Jan 18:

Truckee-Tahoe: $2.73

California: $2.60

National: $2.21

Distance you can go on $20 worth of gas in a Toyota Prius, Subaru Outback, and Jeep Grand Cherokee based on those averages.

(Using EPA highway mileage figures)


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