South Shore gasoline prices soar; premium hits $2 mark | NevadaAppeal.com

South Shore gasoline prices soar; premium hits $2 mark

by Andy Bourelle

Two bucks for a gallon of gas?

As gasoline prices continue to rise all over the West, Lake Tahoe’s south shore has not escaped the widespread trend.

Regular unleaded prices ranged from $1.67 to $1.82 a gallon this week in South Lake Tahoe and Stateline. Premium gas broke the $2 mark at several stations.

How have South Shore consumers reacted?

“Boy, it’s an obvious answer,” Bill Gordon, a resident of the Kingsbury area, said while filling up. “I don’t think it’s the individual station owner. I think it’s all in the refineries and wholesalers. But $1.92 a gallon is ridiculous.

“A year ago it was about a dollar. In a year for it to almost double, that sounds like price fixing.”

Paul Moreno, spokesman for the American Automobile Association of Northern California, said the reason for the high prices around the West is two-fold: Oil companies have low inventory right now, and the price of crude oil is soaring.

“This double whammy is bringing us close to last year’s record gas prices,” Moreno said.

The record for the California side of Tahoe, Moreno said, was set last August when the average for regular gas was $1.75.

AAA conducts a monthly survey of gasoline prices. The next one, later in March, will reveal whether the $1.75 mark has been broken at Tahoe.

The Tribune this week conducted an unofficial survey of 12 randomly selected South Shore stations, where the average for regular fuel was about $1.75.

“Prices are going to remain high this year,” Moreno said. “I don’t know if this high will last, but it doesn’t look good.”

The U.S. Energy Department has predicted sharply higher gasoline prices this summer.

“Retail gasoline prices are poised to surge to unprecedented levels before the spring is out,” said a report by the Energy Information Administration.

It said U.S. gasoline stocks “remain alarmingly low,” and as far as the gasoline market is concerned the country “is moving into uncharted territory.”

The forecast by the Energy Department’s statistical agency said the nation’s average prices, already near $1.50 a gallon, will continue to increase and could easily reach $1.75 to $1.80 a gallon during the peak driving summer months.

Andrew Hill, a resident of Sacramento, was filling his tank in South Lake Tahoe for the trip back home. He said Tahoe’s prices were higher than in the valley.

“We pay about $1.60, if that, for supreme. I think this is totally high,” he said. “But they’re making their money. Everyone has to get home somehow. You really don’t have a choice.”

Al Moss, owner of two South Shore Chevron stations, said he believes the high prices all over the West will cut down the amount people drive, especially hurting the amount of people who visit Tahoe.

“There’s nothing we (as station owners) can do about it,” Moss said. “The gas prices are going up. We’re passing on what’s been passed to us.”

The U.S. Department of Energy’s report on oil prices can be found on the World Wide Web: http://www.eia.doe.gov