Citrus County residents went to bed Monday night and woke up to gas prices almost 15 cents higher.
What’s going on?
Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA - The Auto Club Group, blames it on geopolitical tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and “a potential thaw in the U.S.-China trade war.”
Domestically, higher wholesale prices forced retailers to pass costs on to customers, he said.
But locals call it just plain crazy.
“It’s very politically driven,” Cary Lewis, of Dunnellon, said. “There’s no rhyme or reason for it. Fifteen cents is dramatic."
Lewis, who logs about 60,000 miles annually in his fertilizer sales job, said the price hike definitely will cost his company more money in reimbursement.
Greg Pelletier, of Homosassa, said he was in New Hampshire recently and the cost was up to $2.50. And he thought that was high. Citrus County has caught up, he said.
Pelletier drives a motorcycle, so the hit is softened somewhat. But people need transportation to get to work and have no choice to pay the oil companies’ high prices, he said.
“They know that as well as we do,” Pelletier said.
The average state price for regular unleaded Tuesday was $2.47. Some gas stations in Citrus were selling it for more.
It's still a long way from the record high, which was $4.08 cents per gallon in July 2008, according to the auto club.
Why does gas always go up so high and then only come down in dribbles — a penny less here and there?
Jenkins said it has to do with simple economics.
Whenever retailers face higher prices up front, they pass it along immediately to consumers because they get the initial hit up front, Jenkins said.
If the wholesale price trickles lower and they start dropping the price too steeply, retailers are losing money because the price doesn’t go down at the same rate that retailers paid for the gasoline, Jenkins explained.
Think of it as buying a commodity and then selling it to someone for less money than you paid, Jenkins said.
“It’s a balancing act,” he said.
So what can Citrus County motorists do to reduce the pinch at the pump?
For one, they can comparison shop. Prices can vary by as much as a nickel from station to station. Check out www.gasbuddy.com for local prices.
AAA recommends these other tips:
- Accelerate gradually. Avoid jackrabbit starts.
- Anticipate your stops. When approaching a red light, let your foot off the gas as early as possible.
- Drive during cooler parts of the day. Cooler, denser air can boost power and mileage.
- Avoid long warm-ups in the morning. They’re unnecessary and waste fuel.
- Use air conditioning. Today’s air conditioners create less drag on the engine than driving with the windows open.
- Maintain recommended tire pressure. Low pressure reduces fuel economy and can damage tires.
- Keep the air filter clean. Clogged filters reduce fuel economy and increase exhaust emissions.
- Drive the speed limit.
- Avoid buying gas on Monday. Jenkins said that’s when stations typically hike prices.