Rising gas prices, poor economy keep Nevadans off the roads | NevadaAppeal.com

Rising gas prices, poor economy keep Nevadans off the roads

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

A recent bump in gas prices means Nevadans won’t start driving more any time soon, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

The average price of a regular gallon of gas in Carson City rose 24 cents to $2.15 over the past month. The state average is $2.14 a gallon and the national average is $1.93 a gallon.

But Nevadans were driving less whether prices were over $4 a gallon in the summer or under $2 a gallon in December, said Michael Geeser of AAA.

A 24-cent rise in prices in Carson City isn’t likely to change driving habits one way or the other, he said.

People simply don’t have the money to travel as much as they once did, he said, and “even lower gas prices aren’t going to help.”

Bobby Thind said gas sales have fallen at his Carson City Shell, 1600 N. Carson St., over the past year through high and low prices.

People are less likely to have the jobs or money to travel, he said.

“Nobody has money to do anything,” he said.

Gas sales and convenience store sales have fallen over the last year because people are trying to save money, said Peter Krueger of the Nevada Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association.

“Let’s just say we’re not selling as many Twinkies,” he said.

Most gas stations will be able to survive the slow economy, he said, but he’s worried about rural and independent gas stations.

The recent rise in prices is attributed to reduced production at refineries.

“Historically, gas prices follow the path of oil prices,” Geeser said in a written statement. “But that hasn’t been the case so far in 2009.”

“Refiners have cut back on the amount of gasoline being refined due to a lack of demand and the poor economy,” Geeser said. “That cutback has had an impact on supply, pushing retail prices higher while oil prices have leveled off in the $40 per barrel range.”

Nevada’s average is second in the continental United States behind California, AAA said.

The average price per gallon in the country was $2.81 in 2007, $3.25 in 2008 and $1.95 so far in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The department says the country’s average gas price was $1.69 a gallon in December, the lowest since February 2004.

The December average was $2.40 less than the July average, the department said.

Oil consumption will continue to fall through 2009, the department said, and begin to rebound in 2010.

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212. The Associated Press contributed to this report.