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Fuel prices continue to climb

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

When asked about how recent gasoline prices are affecting his life, Edward Burke of Soda Springs makes a strangling gesture across his throat.

“It’s kind of a shock,” he said. “On the radio, you hear people screaming about paying $1.40 or $1.50 for gas. We pay $2. I drive to the Bay Area about once a month, so it bothers me.”

Local customers and gas dealers alike are feeling the bite of high gasoline prices, which in the past couple of weeks have soared above the $2/gallon mark.

“It’s a tough situation for everybody,” Guzman Enterprises owner Jack Guzman said. Guzman Enterprises owns the Shell station near the factory outlet stores. “It’s something that’s out of our control. We pass on the increases that are given to us.”

While the prices have remained somewhat steady this past week, Guzman said they are expecting another increase by today (Thursday).

“It’s tough to say how much impact on business there is because we are still in ski season,” Guzman said. “But it has affected our daily business. Everybody is shopping price – gas prices are what’s on their minds.”

Judy Miller, manager of the Donner Park Unocal, said that a couple of weeks ago they were given two price increases of 3 to 5 cents a day four days in a row. Gas stations typically only see two price increases in a year, usually only a couple of cents an increase she said.

“The kind of increases we’re getting, we’re not even putting out to the pumps,” Miller said. “The gas stations are doing their best.”

Who knows the exact reasons for the high gas prices, she asked. It’s many things combined. Californians pay extra for emission-friendly gasoline (MTBE) as it is, she explained.

“When we have a shortage from regional suppliers in California, we have to purchase gas from different areas, and the taxes go up,” she said.

Miller said prices are not especially high in the Truckee-Tahoe area compared to other areas in the state. She recently drove up to

Arcada, Calif. and the prices stayed exactly the same the whole way up north.

She does hear frequent complaints from customers as they pay for gas, however. The number of drive-offs, people leaving the pump without paying for gas, has increased too, she said.

“People just can’t afford to pay for their gas,” she said. “People with the big Suburbans that are used to paying $50 to fill up their tanks are paying up to $80 and $90.”

Donner Gate Chevron manager Richard Carrasco said on Tuesday the station received a 4 cent increase on gasoline from Chevron, and the dealer chose not to put the price increase out on the street.

“We purchase from Chevron at a set price,” he said. “It’s up to the dealer. Normally the dealer puts it on the street. Today we’re absorbing that increase.”

Historically, Truckee has always had a higher consumer-oriented gasoline market, Guzman said.

“And the oil companies have kept it that way,” he said.

“It’s a supply and demand thing to where they (the oil companies) get us to pay more for gas and slow us down, so they can get their reserves back up. It takes time for us to get inventories back. We’re not going to see it overnight.”


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