Gas prices take a leap in Auburn, California

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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For gas customers like Alta’s Gus Gustafson this month’s spike in the price at the pump isn’t just about paying more to fill up his Jeep Cherokee. Gustafson, a rural Placer County resident, lives off the electricity grid and uses gas to power his lights, a generator for other power-hungry appliances, his chainsaw and a tractor with a snowplow for the upcoming winter. “I make my own power – I have some solar,” Gustafson said. “But with gas prices, we have no control over it.” California gas consumers are being hit hard at the pump this month. After a dip in prices from as high as $4 a gallon, the state average has jumped 17 cents from last month, according to figures released Tuesday by the AAA. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is $3.95. The year-to-year increase is even more telling, with the current price up 93 cents from the average price on Sept. 13 last year. In Auburn, a survey Tuesday of 10 gas stations along the Interstate 80 corridor between Old Town and the Foresthill exit showed a low price of $3.76 cents a gallon and a high of $3.99. Northern California gas prices are now averaging $3.93, up 14 cents from last month. The national average price of $3.64 is down by one cent, which is 93 cents more than the national price on Sept. 13 last year, when it was $2.71. Geopolitics – and storms on the U.S. East Coast – are causing the upward price swing, AAA says. “Although demand for gasoline has fallen over the past week, which would typically help keep prices down, storms in the Gulf and East Coasts have applied upward pressure on gasoline prices in several parts of the country,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Matt Skryja. “In California, the state’s average price for gasoline has recently been relatively steady.” Of areas polled by AAA, the least expensive average price in Northern California can be found in Marysville, where regular is $3.85. Of all the metro prices in Northern California where gas prices are tracked by AAA, Eureka and South Lake Tahoe both have an average price of $4.08, the highest in Northern California. It was also the highest price in the lower 48 states. Filling up his van at the Foresthill exit, Orangevale’s Eric Winkleman said that price increases affect his bottom line because he travels to service phone systems and doesn’t calculate higher gas prices into his billing. “I feel frustrated because I have no control over it,” Winkleman said. “If it’s steady, I can cover it. But today, I’m traveling to Truckee. Yesterday I was in Stockton. That’s a chunk of change.” Jump at the pumps AAA provides this explanation for how global geopolitics are affecting gas prices: “Oil is a global commodity that is traded around the world. Economic fears among investors typically mean the price per barrel drops – and the price of gas usually follows. Recently, concerns over the condition of European economies caused the price of crude to drop. But the price then rallied as the value of the U.S. dollar dropped. Commodities are traded in U.S. dollars. As the dollar weakens, relative to currencies abroad, the effective price of these products – including crude oil – for investors outside the U.S. becomes cheaper. Oil futures become a more attractive investment and prices are pressured upward. However some market analysts feel the oil market will move lower in the long-term. Adding credence to this bearish long-term forecast is news from the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. lowered its forecast for both oil prices and demand growth over the next 16 months, citing lower growth projections for domestic and global economies.”