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Diesel fuel drops below two bucks in Auburn

Auburn Gas & Food offers $1.99 a gallon diesel to delight of customers
By: Andrew DiLuccia, Journal Motoring Editor
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Lately Ray Sidhu’s Auburn Gas & Food is looking a lot like a heavy-duty truck sales lot. No, he’s not selling hefty pickups, but he’s slashing the price for the fuel that powers them. Located at 1110 High St. in Downtown Auburn, Sidhu is selling diesel fuel for $1.99 a gallon, the first time it’s been below $2 in the almost six years he’s owned the station. It’s also the cheapest in the Auburn area. “The first thing when I saw that price was, I haven’t seen that price since the 1980s,” said Steven Pope, a landscape contractor who drives a Chevrolet diesel pickup. In the past Pope, who uses his truck seven days a week, said he would pay as much as $122 for a tank of diesel when fuel prices were at their height of $5 a gallon. On May 30, 2008 the AAA auto club reported the record high for diesel fuel in the Sacramento region at $5.11 per gallon. Now how much does it cost Pope? “It was $60 yesterday. And it was bone empty,” Pope said Friday. “It’s about half as much as it usually costs me.” According to AAA the state average for diesel gasoline as of Friday was $2.28 a gallon, and it was $3.91 a gallon this same time a year ago. In the Sacramento region the average was $2.31 a gallon as of Friday, and $3.89 a gallon a year ago. Sidhu has heard it all, from disbelief to people asking if the fuel was stolen. But for this owner it’s simply about passing on savings to his customers while still supporting his business. “I think right now it’s affordable (to do) … and I like seeing people happy,” said Sidhu, who’s seen his diesel sales triple since lowering the price below $2 Tuesday. “I’m not losing money on the price.” The next cheapest diesel price in the Auburn region as of Friday was $2.25 at the ARCO gas station at 4025 Grass Valley Highway, according to Internet gas price Web site, GasBuddy.com. Auburn Gas and Food’s diesel price is one of the cheapest in the Sacramento region as Sidhu shares the $1.99 price with a handful of stations in Sacramento. The only diesel price cheaper than Auburn Gas and Food was at an ARCO in Antelope for $1.89 and a Valero in Vacaville, where it was going for $1.97 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com. “It’s great. We came in from Oregon where it was $2.03, we came from L.A., it was $2.16,” said Auburn’s Randy Wasley, who was filling up his heavy-duty Dodge pickup at Sidhu’s on Friday morning. Wasley, who uses his truck for his business hauling automobiles across the West Coast, said the low price has saved him considerably. Wasley recalled spending as much as $115 to fill his tank. Friday morning it cost just $49.71 to fill up his primary fuel tank. But like many, he was surprised to see Sidhu’s price. “My wife said, ‘Is that $1.99?’ I’ll be back,” he said as other trucks pulled into the station. Auburn Gas & Food, which as of Friday sold regular gasoline for $2.18 a gallon and supreme for $2.39, will have the $1.99 diesel for as long as Sidhu can keep it. “Honestly, that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Sidhu said of the diesel price, which he said at one time was regularly cheaper than regular unleaded fuel. “I will do my best to keep it low.” The Journal’s Andrew DiLuccia can be reached at andrewd@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment at Auburnjournal.com.