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Gas prices burn deeper hole in wallet

Costliest California town is Eureka with gas at $3.33 a gallon
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Usually gas prices decline in the fall after the summer vacation rush. But not this year. The average price of a gallon has climbed 8 cents in the past month, according to AAA of Northern California. Seasonal refinery maintenance along with the high price of crude oil are two major factors, AAA spokesman Matt Skryja said in a press release. “Oil stockpiles are at their highest levels in six months, but pump prices aren’t dropping, thanks in part to a lack of gasoline reserves,” Skryja said. In Auburn, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded ranged from $3.09 at Arco and Flyers to to $3.24 at the Chevron on Highway 49 at Bell Road. “It has gone up a few pennies (in the past couple of weeks),” said Gary Eberhard, an employee at the Arco on Highway 49 at Dry Creek Road. “We held it down for as long as we could. Now we’re just staying as competitive as we can. We love our customers.” Auburn resident Krystina Schweyer, who was buying gas at Arco, said she has noticed the price edging up. “It makes it difficult,” she said. “I usually buy gas here because it is the least expensive.” Arco customer Paul Jepsen, a Grass Valley resident, said he keeps an eye on the price of a fill-up. “My understanding is that the reason gas prices go up is because the price of crude oil is going up,” he said. “But I have to admit that I don’t really understand why there are always big fluctuations in the price. I’ve also heard that some refineries have shut down. It’s intended to be a big mystery.” At Chevron, employee Christine Frizzell said the price has gone up 6 cents in a week. It impacts her as much as it does the customers. “We pay the same price to drive,” she said. As the price has gone up, it has meant even more customers than usual at Flyers, according to employee Mark Wexler. “It’s like a gauntlet. It looks like we’re giving away free gas,” he said. “We’ve been increasing customers steadily since last year. Plus it is our bright smiling faces, too. Everyone is very concerned about prices and they’re watching them like a hawk. Anyway that’s what they tell me.” Downtown at Auburn Gas & Food, station owner Ray Sidhu said he’s actually lowered the price 4 cents to $3.15 this week and expects it again next week. He has a lot of longtime customers who appreciate being able to pay a little less, he said. “People don’t like it when the price goes up,” he said. In March, the price for regular unleaded in Auburn was as low as $2.91 at Arco to $3.09 at Chevron. In fact, prices are up 20 cents from a year ago, according to AAA. In Northern California, the least expensive average price this week was $3.10 in Chico, Marysville and Tracy. Eureka, at $3.33, was the most expensive, as well as the highest price reported in the lower 48 states, AAA said. Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com. --------------------------- prices heading north Price for a gallon of regular unleaded around Auburn on Nov. 16 Flyers, Arco and Valero $3.09 Beacon $3.12 Rowdy Randy’s $3.13 Auburn Gas & Food $3.15 Chevron, off Interstate 80 at Auburn Ravine Road $3.19 Chevron on Highway 49 $3.24