Gas prices free-fall in Valley |

Gas prices free-fall in Valley

by Jeff Munson

Carson Valley motorists have something more to add to their holiday cheer as area gas stations have dropped gas prices to their lowest level in at least three years.

Station operators in Minden and Gardnerville said wholesale fuel prices dropped by 40 cents a gallon or more since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At least two Valley stations are selling gas for less than $1 a gallon.

“This is a nice Christmas present for motorists,” said Lisa Foster, spokeswoman for the American Automobile Association’s Reno office.

Statewide, gas averages about $1.16 a gallon and could continue to go downward through the holidays.

Managers at the Arco AM/PM stations in Gardnerville and Minden are selling unleaded gasoline at 99 cents per gallon.

Since Tuesday, motorists have streamed into both stations, topping their tanks and passing their thanks on to managers.

“People are asking ‘How long will this last?’ and saying they can’t remember when gas was 99 cents,” said Sharon Clark, manager of the Minden Arco AM/PM.

It’s been at least three years, maybe longer since gas was less than a dollar, said Larry Benner, manager of the Gardnerville Arco AM/PM.

“We’ve gotten down to $1.07 and $1.08 in the past couple years, but it’s been quite a while,” Benner said. “It’s nice. I hope it stays this way for awhile.”

At the Minden Beacon, where gas is $1.03 a gallon, owner Dave Mills said gas prices have dropped steadily following the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I would have never thought in a million years that going to war, the (gas) prices and the price of crude oil would go down,” Mills said.

Meanwhile, the manager of the Shell station in Gardnerville predicts prices will come down by a few cents in the next few days.

“The customers say they really like seeing the gas prices come down,” said manager Duke Hans. “We’re getting more customers and we’re expecting more the closer we get to Christmas.”

The main reason for the drop in prices is that Americans are traveling less, Foster said.

“From our evaluation, we see (the drop in prices) primarily due to the drop in demand. That’s because we factor in the drop in jet fuel demand because both gasoline and jet fuel are petroleum-based.”

The automobile association predicts that 386,000 Nevadans will travel during the holidays, with 83 percent going by car.

According to the Department of Energy, the combined effects of a recessionary economy and consumer apprehension following Sept. 11 have resulted in the lowest demand for oil in years.

The United States, the world leader in fuel consumption, will burn 19.7 million barrels per day this year, 10,000 barrels less than last year, according to the department.

December’s national average price for gasoline was $1.11 a gallon, according to the automobile association survey. That mark is 43 cents lower than reported in a September survey.

n Staff writer Jeff Munson can be reached at