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San Diego Gasoline Prices Hold Steady

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Aired 3/22/11

San Diego gas prices continue to hover near the $4 a gallon mark.

The cost of fuel may already be changing consumer behavior, according to a San Diego consumer advocate. The unstable international climate is keeping prices high on the world market and that is affecting gas pumps in San Diego.

Jose Alvarez pumps gas at the Ugas station March 6, 2011 in Miami, Florida.
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Above: Jose Alvarez pumps gas at the Ugas station March 6, 2011 in Miami, Florida.

Prices took off about a month ago because of unrest in the Middle East. They stayed high as the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power disaster afflicted Japan.

The Utility Consumers' Action Network tracks prices at hundreds of local gas stations. UCAN's Charles Langley says the average price for a gallon of regular stands at $3.93. The Oil Price Information Service average was higher at $3.98. The price hikes are rippling through the economy.

"Ten percent unemployment, less people on the road, [and] people aren't buying goods and services. Those require fuel to ship," said Charles Langley. "And people are getting more efficient in the way they use gasoline. We're using less gasoline because people can't afford it."

This past weekend was the first time in a month that prices did not change sharply. The difference was a few tenths of a percent, said Langley. Prices around the rest of the state inched up, but not in San Diego.

"For some reason, in the San Diego Market, we actually saw a little bit of price cutting with some independent dealers lowering their prices," said Langley.

Langley is also uncertain about where prices are heading. The international situation is too volatile to make accurate predictions in the short term. However, Langley said it wouldn't surprise him if the price topped $5.00 a gallon this summer.

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