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Auburn gas pumps to become more secure

Fuel costs still concern drivers
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Local gas stations are making the move toward more secure, triple encrypted point-of-sale devices at older outdoor fuel pumps. Some gas station owners say to comply with security regulations from Visa, they have replaced their older fuel pumps altogether, while others say they may just install new point-of-sale equipment by the 2014 deadline. Some locals say they are relieved to know their security pin and credit card information will be protected from thieves who use credit card skimmers, but the high cost of fuel remains a concern. Randy Hicks, who owns Rowdy Randy’s Gas Station in Auburn, said he recently replaced the fuel pumps at his station to comply with the regulation. To make the $35,000 to $40,000 investment worth it, he also added diesel fuel to the station. “This new triple encryption really helps out as far as theft. They cannot do that with this new system,” Hicks said. “If you have old pumps, that is between $35,000 to $40,000 for all of it and that doesn’t increase any of your business. So I decided to put in diesel because that would increase my business.” Sameer Walia, who owns the Auburn Valero Station, said he hasn’t decided which option he will take yet. “It is coming up. There is a three-year period,” Walia said. “They can upgrade without putting in new pumps or put in new pumps.” Kristen Wingate, of Auburn, was filling up her SUV at Rowdy Randy’s on Wednesday and said she does worry about the security of her debit card information at gas stations. “That is one thing I do worry about when I go to pump gas and I think, ‘I should just go in,’” Wingate said. “But, it is just so darn convenient.” Wingate said she is also unhappy with the cost of fuel. “I do most of my driving in town. Your car gets a lot less miles per gallon. It went from $60 to $80 per tank,” Wingate said. “It’s a brand new car from last year. I was thinking about getting a hybrid, but I ended up falling in love with this car.” Wingate said she often drives carpool for her children’s friends, so she figures that with the third row of seating she is at least helping to keep some cars off the road. Connie O’Callaghan, of Georgetown, said she has two vehicles, a less fuel efficient sport utility vehicle for the snow and a more fuel efficient car. “I don’t like them one bit,” O’Callaghan said when asked about her thoughts on the current gas prices. Lucy Whitson, of Sacramento, commutes to Auburn for work. She said while fuel prices have gone up, she doesn’t blame the current administration for that. “Don’t blame Obama. There is no quick fix,” Whitson said. “It’s costing me like $60 to fill up. I come from Sacramento to the foothills.” Hicks said he believes the current administration is at fault for higher gas prices. “There is no reason for $5 gas. The oil production on federal land is down since (President Barack Obama) took office and the oil production on private land is up,” Hicks said. “It has a direct impact on our current president. He is the one that got rid of it all. Based on supply we should be down around $40 a barrel. We should be down around the $2.50 mark per gallon (of gasoline).” Hicks said while new drilling wouldn’t impact gas prices for a few years, he believes it is still important for the U.S. to start on the Keystone Pipeline now to reap the benefits of lower gas price later. The Keystone Pipeline is system to transport oil from Alberta, Canada to spots in the U.S., including Illinois and Oklahoma. A proposed extension of the pipeline further into the U.S., Keystone XL, has been marked with controversy and lawsuits. President Obama postponed a decision on the extension until 2013. He said despite the high cost of fuel, it has gone down over the past couple of weeks. “Gas has come down in the past couple of weeks and it is starting to show up on the street a couple cents a week,” Hicks said. AAA confirmed in its Fuel Gauge report released on Monday that drivers will get a bit of a break at the pump, despite rising fuel costs. “While the national average price continues to rise, the rate of increase has begun to slow,” AAA said in its national report. The average price of fuel in the Sacramento Metro area was $4.22 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline as of Wednesday, according to AAA. The highest recorded average price was $4.57 per gallon in June of 2008. Walia said his customers haven’t been complaining as much about gas prices lately. The price per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $4.27 Wednesday afternoon at Auburn Valero. “At the moment I guess people are glad the prices are staying, so they aren’t talking about it,” Walia said. Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrmedia.com, or follow her on Twitter @AJ_News.