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Gas Prices Surge in San Diego


Aired 4/19/09

Gasoline prices in San Diego County shot up by more than 17 cents this week, passing the three-dollar mark for the first time since last September. KPBS reporter Ed Joyce has more.

The average price for a gallon of self-serve regular is $3.11, a jump of 17 cents from last week, and 45 cents more than last month. The Auto Club says supply issues and investor speculation get the blame this week. The Utility Consumers' Action Network is a non-profit utility watchdog group. UCAN's Michael Shames questions this latest price spike.

Shames : The oil companies have proven themselves remarkably adept at finding ways of increasing prices and coming up with creative excuses for why prices are going up. But the reality is they don't pan out. When you look carefully at them you realize that the gas prices because of the spring blend usually doesn't happen until April, why is it happening in March this year? Good question.

The spring blend is a boutique fuel used only in California to meet air pollution standards. Shames says shopping around this week won't make a difference because of tight supplies.

Shames : So you're not seeing the kind of differential between the independent stations and the branded stations as you normally do. So right now actually it's a tougher time to shop because the discounting that used to be done by the independents isn't quite as significant as it is right now.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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