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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of February 19 - 25, 2003


Fuel prices spike to February record

Express Staff Writer

In the six years he’s been in the business, Gary Peak hasn’t seen wholesale gasoline prices climb as high or as fast as they have in the past week.




Express photo by Willy Cook
Record-high fuel prices didn’t deter Neil Collins, from Seattle Wash., from driving to Sun Valley for Presidents’ Day weekend.

"Profit margins in gas are as low as I’ve seen since I’ve been here," said Peak, co-owner of Splash & Dash in Bellevue. "The average gas station needs an 8 cent margin to pay the bills, and we are just barely paying the bills."

What’s more, at $1.72 per gallon of regular fuel on Monday afternoon, Peak had not yet passed along another 2 cent increase that was scheduled to hit him with his next shipment of fuel.

Regular gasoline Monday afternoon cost an average of $1.74 among the Wood River Valley’s 12 retailers of 85 octane fuel.

According to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, Idaho’s average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline on Monday was $1.63, up 17 cents from a month ago and up 44 cents from this time last year. Monday’s national average was $1.66, up 19 cents from a month ago and up 53 cents from a year ago.

Idaho’s record setting average high was $1.748 on Oct. 24, 2000, and the record national average was $1.718 on May 15, 2001. If trends don’t slow, those numbers could easily be attained.

"Whether the loss of oil and gasoline shipments from Venezuela and cold weather throughout the country have thinned inventories enough to justify these sharp price increases is the big question," said a skeptical sounding AAA Idaho Public Affairs Director Dave Carlson.

AAA said last week that it is ready to support government action against companies that try to profit unfairly from a national emergency, including the nation’s heightened terrorist alert status. AAA is advising motorists to shop aggressively for the best price and to look for ways to reduce fuel consumption, including alternate forms of transportation.

Idaho’s $1.63 price is the highest ever for the month of February. AAA said the price of crude oil reached $35 a barrel last week, the highest level in two years and up about $3 from three weeks ago.

Among three Idaho cities specifically tracked and reported by AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report last week, Coeur d’Alene reported the highest average price, $1.61. Boise recorded $1.59, and Pocatello averaged $1.55.

In the Wood River Valley on Monday, Albertson’s blew away the competition, charging $1.66. Gerry’s Market and Sun Valley Car Wash tied for second at $1.70. Sun Valley Sinclair, Guffy’s, Splash & Dash and Mountain Sun all charged $1.72.

The Hitchrack Motel, Gas & Grocery’s regular gasoline was 87 octane, a step up from all other local retailers, and cost $1.73. Brico of Idaho in Ketchum’s light industrial area did not advertise prices.

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.