Static prices continue at gas stations

Local gas gauge

Regular unleaded prices as of 2 p.m. Tuesday

Petrowest 301 School Road $3.19/gal

Trevco 702 Industrial Ave. $3.25/gal

Loaf N Jug 2441 W. Victory Way $3.29/gal

Sinclair 666 W. First St. $3.32/gal

Conoco 140 W. Victory Way $3.38/gal

Gofer Foods (Conoco) 923 E. Victory Way $3.39/gal

Kum & Go 700 E. Victory Way $3.39/gal

Kum & Go 895 Yampa Ave. $3.39/gal

Kum & Go 1302 W. Victory Way $3.39/gal

— Despite gas prices dropping state- and nationwide, the majority of local service stations have remained within cents of $3.39 per gallon of regular unleaded since mid-June.

Colorado gas prices fell for the second straight week and have reached their lowest point since the second week of May, according to the AAA Web site. The current state average for regular unleaded is $3.09 per gallon.

Commercial gas stations in Craig - those not requiring a member card and which are mostly found on Highway 40 - all are $3.39 per gallon as of Tuesday, except for the Conoco station at 140 W. Victory Way, which charges $3.38, and the Loaf N Jug at 2441 W. Victory Way, which dropped its price 10 cents on Tuesday to $3.29.

"Two factors impact gas prices in rural areas," AAA Colorado spokesperson Eric Escudero said. "One is transportation costs and the other is lack of competition. I can see that Craig is not in the mountains, so I would guess the reason (for high prices) would be mostly lack of competition."

This week is the 13th consecutive week that the state average for gas prices has been more than $3 per gallon. However, some areas saw lower prices for the first time since cresting the $3 line, such as Grand Junction where the average is now $2.99 per gallon, and Denver where the average is $2.97.

Dale Peters, 44, sees a clear problem in Craig.

"This town is price gouging compared to Denver," Peters said. "It's politics or price gouging, but no one does anything about it. They say it's shipping and that's (a lie)."

Tom Reece, 65, first came to Craig from Phoenix in 1954. He remembers prices in Phoenix were about 17 cents per gallon and about 35 cents in Craig.

"The prices are too high and nobody knows why," Reece said. "I've lived here for 32 years and we've had the highest prices of any place all the time. I think the prices are fixed. I don't fault anyone for making a buck, but we're getting ripped."

Denny Lee owns the Conoco station at 140 W. Victory Way, and neither he nor the representatives of any of the other gas stations in town know why prices in Craig typically are higher than in surrounding areas.

"I don't know why," Lee said. "I just adjust to my profit margin. I look at when the last shipment came in, and when the next one comes. (Prices) have always been that way. I'm almost a native of Moffat County, and I can't remember a time that was different."

Lee said the "bulk" stations on the south side of town are able to sell gas at low prices because they sell large volumes to big trucks, and therefore do not need the profit per gallon that he does.

To buy gas at the bulk stations - which are the Sinclair on West First Street, Trevco on Industrial Avenue and Petrowest on School Road - customers need a specific gas card provided by each station.

Petrowest currently accepts cash, checks and credit cards in its office, and plans to remodel its pumps in 4 to 6 weeks to accept most major credit cards. Trevco customers with bad credit can pay cash.

Peters and Reece said they do not have any of those cards because they do not have the money to pay for them.

However, it does not cost anything to own a gas card for a bulk station. It works like a credit card; customers fill out a credit application and receive a statement at the end of the month. None of the cards charge extra fees beyond penalties for nonpayment.

Representatives from bulk stations would not comment on why their prices are lower than commercial stations in Craig.

Residents who have concerns about gas station price gouging can contact the U.S. Department of Energy at http://gaswatch.energy.gov or 1-800-342-5363.

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