Falling gas prices beneficial

State average at $3.29
By: Bruce Warren Journal Staff Writer
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Two Auburn gas stations on High Street are selling unleaded regular gasoline at $3.19 a gallon, down significantly from $4.90 per gallon paid at some stations at the peak of summer prices. California residents are saving money at the pump, as the state average is at $3.29, while the national average is at $2.89 according to an AAA survey. Maria Hanke of Auburn pulled into Powell’s Superstop station on High Street Tuesday and beamed when asked about falling gas prices. The deputy legislative counsel commutes regularly to Sacramento and appreciates lower prices. “I think it helps everyone because food prices continue to rise,” Hanke said. According to the Oil Price Information Service, the national average price of gas for Tuesday was $2.89. When asked why Californians typically pay more than the rest of the country for gas, Hanke had an answer. “It’s because of all the different taxes, some of which are for roads,” Hanke said. The upcoming national election might be reason for some oil companies to lower prices, but Hanke disagreed. “I think it’s because of the price of the barrel (of oil),” Hanke said. “I don’t think its election related.” Oil prices dropped below $107 a barrel on Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, as uncertainty about the U.S. financial bailout plan continues to affect Wall Street trading. However, oil prices went up $15 last week after a two-month slide. At one time this summer northern California gas prices for one gallon of unleaded regular exceeded $4.90. Gas prices have fallen 30 percent since the summer’s peak, according to an AAA survey. Currently, AAA shows Alaska with the highest gas prices with an average price of $3.88, while Oklahoma has the lowest average at $2.48. Locally, Phil Pincombe, an attendant at Powell’s Superstop, got good news from his supplier Tuesday. “We got a call from our gas supplier this morning and when I asked how prices were doing, he said, ‘they’ve been free falling,’ ” Pincombe said. “It’s dropped 10 cents (gallon) since our last load.” For Bill Presson of Colfax, a regular Superstop customer, it means he can do more cruising in his classic 1955 Chevrolet. He said his six-cylinder Chevy gets 20 miles per gallon, but lower fuel prices are a bigger boon for his towing business. “I drive for a living with a tow truck,” Presson said. “I have to buy my own fuel so it makes a big difference when it goes down.” Alicia and Richard Powell, co-owners of Powell’s Superstop, have now operated the High Street gas and repair station for more than one year. They recently discovered the secret for repeat business. “We sell for the same price, cash or credit,” Alicia Powell said. “When people find out we don’t charge extra on our gas price, they keep coming back.” Wall Street analysts disagree how long oil prices might continue to fall and some predict an upward trend. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is concerned over falling prices of oil per barrel. OPEC President Chakib Khelid is considering a substantial cut in production, according to an Associated Press report. Considering recent swings in the market, it’s hard to predict whether oil prices will continue to decline, resulting in lower prices at the pump.