Gas prices remain high in Northern California
February 16, 2006
By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service
Fuel prices across Northern California rose through Feb. 14, with
the Bay Area hit hard by an average price increase of some 27
cents per gallon since January, according to the AAA of Northern
California's February gas price report.
Statewide, the average cost of regular unleaded is $2.56, one
cent higher than the average Bay Area price, according to AAA
spokesman Sean Comey.
That state average is some 27 cents higher than the national
average price of $2.29 a gallon - which is some three cents less
than January's national average price.
Even if Bay Area residents find gas prices hard to stomach, other
Californians are faced with even higher prices. Eureka, South
Lake Tahoe and Yreka have the state's highest gas prices, between
$2.70 and $2.80 a gallon.
And prices this month are much lower than the state's record
high of $3.05 a gallon on Sept. 9.
Consumers looking for cheaper gas should shop aggressively for
the best value, Comey said. Comey doesn't recommend motorists
drive for miles to save a few cents, but said comparison shopping
is important to getting a good deal.
In the Bay Area, Pleasanton is perhaps the best place to fill
up at the pump, with the average gas price a low $2.56 a gallon,
according to the report.
Gas prices vary for a number of complex reasons, ranging from
international pressure on supply to the U.S. to competition in
local gas markets, Comey said.
When it comes to setting prices, there is a long chain of responsibility,
which ends with the retailer, he said.
Retailers have told Comey that "a lot of it has to do with
competition" - if "the station across the street"
has low prices, there's more incentive for all other stations
to keep prices low.
Oil and gas companies also use so-called "zone pricing"
to determine what sort of prices particular local markets can
handle, Comey said.
A free tool for consumers to check the latest gas prices is available
on the AAA's national Web site at http://www.aaa.com/gasprices.
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