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Gas prices are low

by Andy Bourelle

In case you haven’t noticed, gasoline prices are unusually low right now.

While the trend isn’t expected to last long, consumers are enjoying it while it’s here.

“I think it’s awesome,” Gardnerville resident Lianne Vickers said Monday at the AM/PM in Minden.

On his way to Fort Bragg, Calif., Las Vegas resident Jim Maring was traveling through Gardnerville Monday. Having paid $1.11 a gallon in Las Vegas and $1.44 in Tonopah, Maring was happy to stop at the Exxon by Carson Valley Middle School, where the prices ranged from $.99 to $1.23.

“It’s totally unbelievable,” he said. “I think it’s great. It’s helpful when you’re traveling.”

Dave Mills, owner of the Minden Beacon, said the current prices are lower than he has seen in at least four years.

However, the low prices are not expected to last.

Peter Krueger of the Nevada Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association in Reno said as the summer driving season nears, the prices will go back up. Prices typically decrease in the winter, but not as significantly as they have recently.

While many factors go into the current low prices, Krueger said, the biggest reason is simple.

“Fuel is a commodity. It’s driven by supply and demand,” Krueger said. “Right now there’s a lot of supply, and demand has not caught up with it.”

Prices have fallen throughout the United States, Krueger said, but not proportionately with Nevada. States in the southeastern part of the country typically have the lowest prices in the nation, and while prices have decreased in those states, the amount of change is not as drastic as Nevada’s.

A variety of factors go into determining gas prices, Krueger said. Most Nevada gasoline comes from refineries in California. Regulated by the California Air Resource Board, California-produced gasoline goes through a different process of refining than other states, making it a better quality product for the air. However, it costs more.

Still, Nevada’s prices are normally higher than California because of shipping and, more significantly, taxes. Krueger said Nevada is in the top 10 of states with the highest gas taxes. About 53 cents per gallon of gasoline goes to federal, state and local taxes. With the current prices, that is about half.

Although consumers obviously love the low prices, retailers don’t necessarily feel the same. Retailers have to, hopefully, increase the number of people buying gas at their stations to offset the revenue lost from the low prices, Mills said.

He describes the gas industry as an interesting phenomenon. While people probably don’t know the exact price of a loaf of bread or a can of corn, they know exactly what the current price of gas is.

“It’s amazing. People know,” Mills said. “Gas is something people relate to and think about. They’ll drive a long way to save 2 cents a gallon.”

However, Mills said gasoline is worth the price – even at its normal price. It is a resource people rely heavily on, and while the price fluctuates often, Mills said the price of gasoline has not risen significantly in 10 years.

Mills estimated the price would move back toward normal within 30 to 45 days. However, residents are enjoying the low prices while they are here.

While buying gas at the AM/PM on Monday, Johnson Lane resident Duane Christian said he loves the current prices.

“Let’s keep ’em that way,” he said.

Sorry – not likely.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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